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

Young Girl with a Flute

1666-67 (?)
Oil on panel, 20,2 x 18 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Signature: Not signed.

Provenance: This painting stems from the following collections: Jan Mahie van Boxtel en Liempde, Bois-le-Due; collection Maria de Grez-van Boxtel van Liempde, Brussels; collection Jhr. de Grez, Brussels. Noticed there by A. Bredius and exhibited in the Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1906-7. Collection August Janssen, Amsterdam. Art Gallery J. Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1919. Art Gallery Knoedler, New York. Collection Joseph E. Widener, Philadelphia. Since 1942, in the museum.

The Girl with a Flute depicts a young girl who is largely detached from the uncertain context of the picture. We see her from a very close angle, leaning on the edge of a table which has been foreshortened to the point where it looks more like a parapet. Again, her lips are lightly parted as she looks at us, as if she were about to speak to us. Her face, and in particular her eyes, are shadowed due to her wide, conical hat; it takes on the appearance of exotic chinoiserie. The way in which her face has been painted in shadow lends a touch of the enigmatic to her features.

It is assumed by some critics that this painting is not by Vermeer, but one of the French fakes produced at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In this case it originates from the same faker's studio as the Girl with a Red Hat (National Gallery of Art, Washington).

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 15 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in A Major for flute and cembalo obligato, BWV 1032