Johannes Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at a Virginal To Go on View in New Dallas Museum of Art Exhibition

--Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting Presents Eight Works from the Prestigious Leiden Collection--

Dallas, TX—December 4, 2015— The Dallas Museum of Art presents Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting, an exhibition organized by the DMA showcasing paintings from the prestigious Leiden Collection of New York, including a work by Johannes Vermeer. The great 17th-century Dutch painter created fewer than forty paintings during his lifetime, and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal from 1670–72 is  one of Vermeer’s last. This masterpiece is the inspiration for the DMA exhibition Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting, which includes seven additional loans from The Leiden Collection of works by Vermeer’s contemporaries—artists Jan Steen, Gerard ter Borch, Jacob Adriaensz Ochtervelt, Eglon van der Neer, Gerard Dou, and Frans van Mieris—whose paintings also portray musicians performing period instruments such as the lute, violin, and violincello and demonstrate key aspects of 17th-century musical culture.

Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting, on view for free January 17 through August 21, 2016, is the first exhibition of work from The Leiden Collection focused exclusively on Dutch art. Of the thirty-six known surviving paintings by Vermeer, twelve depict musical themes or include a musical instrument. The exhibition centers on Vermeer’s painting Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, which is typical of the acclaimed artist’s style in its depiction of a solitary woman seated at the keyboard instrument with light illuminating the scene from a window not seen on the canvas. Music was one of the most popular subjects in 17th-century Dutch painting and carried diverse, and sometimes contradictory, associations. The Dutch believed music to be a divine gift or spiritual medicine, to which the mottos inscribed on many of the period’s instruments attest. Yet melody-making was simultaneously experienced as belonging to the sensuous realm of pleasure.

“These eight works of art on loan from The Leiden Collection are precious, delicate, intimate, fun, and amazing paintings. Centered on one masterpiece by Vermeer, Vermeer Suite also features his contemporaries playing their various parts in different tunes,” said Olivier Meslay, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Senior Curator of European and American Art, and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. “Dutch paintings from the 17th century are among the most fascinating creations of the Western world, and this focused exhibition presents this extraordinary time period beautifully.”

Musical harmony was a particularly popular metaphor in 17th-century Dutch imagery, standing in for romantic, martial, or familial unity. Specific musical instruments were also invested with symbolism, such as the lute, which carried sexual associations because its shape was thought to imitate the female form. In addition to the traditional symbolism of Dutch genre scenes, music as subject matter became a testament to the artist’s ability. The skill it took to represent an ephemeral and auditory performance in visual terms was highly prized. Translating one type of sensory experience into another was considered a virtuosic talent.   

The DMA’s weekly Wednesday Gallery Talk at 12:15 p.m. will focus on the exhibition on January 20 and May 18. The Bancroft Family Concert series at the DMA will celebrate the exhibition on Saturday, February 20, at 3:00 p.m. during the free concert with early music scholar Kristin Van Cleve.  Additional programs will be scheduled throughout the run of the exhibition. For details, dates, and prices, visit DMA.org. For more information on the DMA Friends program, visit DMA.org/friends.

Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art with paintings on loan from The Leiden Collection. The exhibition is curated by Olivier Meslay, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs, Senior Curator of European and American Art, and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art. The exhibition is included in free general admission.

Images: Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, c. 1670–72, oil on canvas, The Leiden Collection, Inv# JVe-100 28.2015.1 © The Leiden Collection, New York; Gerard ter Borch, A Musical Company, c. 1642–44, oil on panel, The Leiden Collection, Inv# GB-105 28.2015.3 © The Leiden Collection, New York; Attributed to Dirck van Santvoort, A Boy Playing the Flute, n.d., oil on canvas, The Leiden Collection, Inv# DS-100 28.2015.8 © The Leiden Collection, New York

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is among the 10 largest art museums in the country and is distinguished by its commitment to research, innovation, and public engagement. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 23,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the nation’s largest arts district, the Museum welcomes over 650,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a free general admission policy and launched DMA Friends, a free program available to anyone who wishes to join focused on active engagement with the Museum. For more information, visit DMA.org.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.