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Johannes Vermeer: 'A Young Woman standing at a Virginal'

The richly dressed lady playing a virginal stands in a prosperous Dutch home with paintings on the wall, a marble-tiled floor, and a skirting of locally produced Delft blue and white tiles. The two paintings on the wall behind her cannot be identified with certainty. The small landscape on the left and the painting decorating the lid of the virginal resemble works by Vermeer’s Delft colleague Pieter Groenewegen.

The second painting, attributed to Cesar van Everdingen, shows the motif of Cupid holding a card. This figure derives from a contemporary emblem. It may either refer to the idea of faithfulness to one lover or, in conjunction with the virginal, to the traditional association of music and love.

As with most of Vermeer's work, the painting is undated, although the style of painting and the woman’s costume indicate that it is a relatively late work. This painting can be related to another Vermeer in the collection, A Young Woman seated at a Virginal, from the same period.


 
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