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The Music Lesson

The Music Lesson
File:Jan Vermeer van Delft 014.jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year 1662–1665
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 74.6 cm × 64.1 cm (Script error: No such module "convert". × Script error: No such module "convert".)
Location Royal Collection, St. James's Palace, London

The Music Lesson or Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman by Johannes Vermeer, also known as Jan Vermeer, is a painting of young female pupil receiving the titular music lesson. It has been estimated to have been painted between 1662 and 1665. The medium of the work is oil on canvas. It measures 74.6 cm by 64.1 cm.


The Music Lesson has been part of the Royal Collection of Great Britain since the reign of King George III. However, when the piece was acquired it was believed to be a work by Frans van Mieris the elder because of a misinterpretation of the signature. The painting wasn't correctly attributed to Vermeer until 1866 by Théophile Thoré, though some scholars were skeptical whether it was Vermeer or not.[1] George III did not intend to buy The Music Lesson, but the work was part of a lot being sold by Consul Joseph Smith which included books the king wanted, so the monarch had to take the picture, too.[2] The picture was sold in May 1696 in Delft, part of the collection of Jacob Dissous, which included a score of Vermeers. It was later acquired by Venetian artist Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini in 1718, with Pellegrini’s collection later being bought by Smith.[1]

Painting materials

The painting had been investigated by Hermann Kühn in 1968[3] and there is also material on the pigment analysis on the website of the National Gallery in London[4] where the painting was included in the exhibition "Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure" in 2013. The "Music Lesson" is a mature work of Vermeer and his handling of color and his choice of painting materials[5] is but one of the aspects proving his mastery. The painting is dominated by dark areas such as the bluish-black floor painted in bone black with addition of natural ultramarine.

In popular culture

The 2013 documentary film Tim's Vermeer documents[6] inventor and entrepreneur Tim Jenison's attempt to recreate[7] The Music Lesson in order to test his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of optical devices.

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Royal Collection". The Royal Collection. Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
  2. ^ "The Lowlifes Take over the Palace, The Sunday Mail, May 1, 2005". Retrieved 2013-12-24. 
  3. ^ Kuhn, H. A Study of the Pigments and Grounds Used by Jan Vermeer. Reports and Studies in the History of Art, 1968, 154–202
  4. ^ Vermeer's palette, National Gallery London
  5. ^ Johannes Vermeer, 'The Music Lesson, Colourlex
  6. ^ Andersen, Kurt (November 29, 2013). "Reverse-Engineering a Genius (Has a Vermeer Mystery Been Solved?)". Vanity Fair. 
  7. ^ Tim Jenison's Vermeer, The Music Lesson

Further reading

External links

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