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Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure, which is now on view at the National Gallery in London, presents the art of Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) and his contemporaries alongside rare musical instruments and songbooks. A reoccurring theme in Dutch painting, the presence of a musical instrument represented a variety of things such as the social position of the sitter if present in a portrait.

The paintings on display include the National Gallery’s two works by Vermeer, A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal; The Guitar Player, which is on loan from the Kenwood House in north London; the Royal Collection’s Music Lesson; and a work from a private collection. In total, the exhibition present 5 of the 36 Vermeer paintings known to exist. A selection of music-themed paintings by other Dutch golden age artists such as Jan Steen (1626-1679) and Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684) complement the Vermeer works. Musical instruments on view include a virginal (a type of harpsichord), lutes and an extravagantly decorated guitar.

Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure will be on view at the National Gallery through September 8, 2013 in the museum’s Sainsbury Wing.

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