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

Woman with a Lute near a Window

c. 1663
Oil on canvas, 51 x 46 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Signature: Indistinct remainders of a signature(?) on the wall below the tablecloth.

Provenance: Sale Amsterdam, 1817, with the attribution to Vermeer van Delft, for fl 65; collection Collis B. Huntington, New York (bought in England). Bequeathed to the museum in 1897.

We have here a much skinned and damaged painting, to the point where it is possible that we are in the presence of a copy only. Very little in this work seems to indicate Vermeer's original technique, brush stroke, and savoir faire. The composition seems to belong to Vermeer. The left part (from the viewer's perspective) of the lady's figure is bathed in strong light, whereas the rest falls abruptly into penumbra, in concordance with the chiaroscuro pattern derived from the master of Leyden by many of his disciples, such as Leonard Bramer. On the back wall, a large map on which the word EUROPA can be made out. According to Blankert, this map was first published by J. Hondius in 1613 and republished by J. Blaeu in 1659. The artist obviously made use in this work of an optical instrument such as the inverted Galilean telescope, to obtain the emphasized foreground, set against the recession of the lute player into space.

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