The exhibition “Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure”, opening on June 26th at the National Gallery, combines the art of Vermeer and his contemporaries with rare musical instruments, songbooks and live music.
For the first time the National Gallery’s two paintings by Vermeer, “A Young Woman standing at a Virginal” and “A Young Woman seated at a Virginal” are brought together with Vermeer’s “Guitar Player”, which is currently on exceptional loan from the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House.
Three days a week visitors can experience live performances in the exhibition space by the Academy of Ancient Music, bringing the paintings to life with music of the period.
Music was one of the most popular themes in Dutch painting, and carried many diverse associations. In portraits, a musical instrument or songbook might suggest the education or social position of the sitter; in scenes of everyday life, it might act as a metaphor for harmony, or a symbol of transience.
The exhibition displays 17th-century virginals (a type of harpsichord), guitars and lutes alongside the paintings to offer unique insights into the painters’ choice of instruments, and the difference between the real instruments and the way in which the painters chose to represent them.
The show also incorporates music of the era with the Academy of Ancient Music performing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the exhibition space. These live performances are designed to enrich your experience of the serene ambiance created in paintings by Vermeer and other masters of the Dutch Golden Age.
Performances take place at the times specified below and last 20 minutes. Please note there will be no performance on Saturday 20 July.
Thursday: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm
Friday: 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm
Saturday: 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm