Vermeer & Music: The Art of Love and Leisure – National Gallery, August 2013

Vermeer & Music: The Art of Love and Leisure (National Gallery leaflet, August 2013)

Yesterday was fog day. With the most amazing fog we’d seen for a while. And at sunset, it became incredibly spectacular.

Today the light was very clear. And at sunset, a little while ago, we had very soft colours in the sky. A bit like an impressionist sky.

Somehow, this made me think of Johannes Vermeer. Perhaps because of the way he used colours.

And it occurred to me that I haven’t told you about Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure yet. I’ll remedy this now.

There were only a few paintings from Vermeer on display. But in Vermeer’s case, it’s always quality over quantity.

The paintings were sharp. Intense. Intimate. With Vermeer using only a limited palette.


The main focus of the exhibition was the pastimes of the Dutch nobility in 17th century. And music, we learn, was everywhere: at weddings, churches, fairs and taverns. Being able to play an instrument was a skill worth having. One ought to be able to play well, but not so well that they could be mistaken for a professional musician (these were people of dubious characters. I mean… look at Frans van Mieris the Elder, Self Portrait of the Artist, with a Cittern, how much fun is he having?).

Music was present at family reunions and social events. You could hire a band to play ‘the pop tunes of the day’ when you were entertaining your friends. People actively participated. There was a sense of the ephemeral. The music was there. People were relaxing and having fun. These were fleeting moments.

There were lutes and virginals on displays. And at the time of our visit, a band was playing appropriate tunes, which made it all come to life.

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I'm an inquisitive being. Everything is an adventure: art, architecture, colours, food, patterns, people... and travel! And I love elephants. That's what I mostly write about.
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