VERMEER, Johannes
(b. 1632, Delft, d. 1675, Delft)

Girl Interrupted at Her Music

Oil on canvas, 39,4 x 44,5 cm
Frick Collection, New York

Signature: Not signed.

Provenance: This painting first appeared at an Amsterdam sale in 1810 with the attribution to Jan Vermeer van Delft. Subsequently, at two other sales, the same city, in 1811 and 1820. It was then sold at Christie's in London in 1853, passed through the hands of the art gallery Lawrie and Co., London, and finally the art gallery Knoedler, New York, from which it was finally acquired by H. C. Frick in 1901.

Owing to its very poor state of preservation, which has been remarked upon by C. Hofstede de Groot in 1899, it is difficult to determine whether we have here an old copy or an almost completely ruined and overpainted original. The best part of the painting is the still life. In the background, we find the Standing Cupid, which is already familiar to us from A Woman Asleep at Table. Hofstede de Groot complained in his above-mentioned publication that the bird cage and a violin with a bow on the rear wall were completely new. We still find the bird cage. Violin and bow have been since taken off.

In the composition we find a new twist - the interruption in the interaction of the two figures. The young girl looks out at the viewer, and takes time off from the making of music. It has been suggested that the Cupid on the wall conveys the emblematic meaning of unrequited love. Only the gentleman seems to be fully absorbed by his feelings, whereas the young woman appears distracted and inattentive. The treatment of light, falling in from the left, is also Vermeeresque.