A Young Woman Standing At A Virginal By Johannes Vermeer



2015-06-26 11:19:21

A Young Woman Standing At A Virginal is a 17th century painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.



This is the title which Johannes Vermeer’s painting, whose date of production lies in the region of 1670, goes by. It portrays a woman of no humble taste in attire in an equally opulent house. The floor of the house is richly decorated with marble while the walls stand behind unidentified paintings. However attempts to put a finger on whose works these paintings are point in the direction of Jan Wijnants, Allart van Everdingen and Caesar van Everdingen. The woman’s body has been painted from her right-hand side as she plays with virginal strands.

The painting on the wall behind her shows the motif of Cupid while the one in front of her is the depiction of a certain landscape. Speculators have it that the Cupid motif may be a representation of love, faithfulness or it has something to do with the traditional connection between love and music considering the virginal right next to it.


The painting was done on a14x14 square centimeter-thread plain weave linen with the original tacking edges having been removed already. It has a double ground that consists of pale grey beneath a pale grey buff. For the flesh color, a pink layer was laid first then green earth was used and the shadows were made from a mixture of green earth and a deep red shadow.

A gray-blue layer was applied to produce the blue upholstery the outlines of the tiles were done with wet paint. As it appears now, there have been some abrasions on the lady’s face and on the blue chair. Overall, Vemeer’s trademark technique coding symbolic meanings inside other painting within the work under construction is amply employed here


Available critique of this masterpiece is uniformly positive. Moreover, the critics use their professional eyes to peep into the not-so-obvious aspects of the paintings. While identifying love as the dominant theme of the painting, Alejandro Vergara speculated that actually it’s part of a twin job. Their shared similarities include subject, size and technique.

The interesting connection between the two is that while in this painting the lady is standing, the one in its supposed twin is seated. It’s from those two postures that Vergara draws the conclusion of an allusion to two kinds of love; faithful love in the Lady Standing and its wandering counterpart in the Lady Seated. Other critics did not find the pair-theory as intriguing as the music-love duality contained apparent in the work.

Value and Notable Auction Sales.

On December 5th 1892, aN auction was held in Paris where Theophile Thore’s collection was on sale. As it happened, Stephen Bourgeois was ready to part with 29,000 francs to walk home with this particular painting. Prior to this sale, it had been in possession of a dozen other Europeans.

Appearance in Exhibitions

Although other Vemeers works have been exhibited in and around much of the western hemisphere, this particular painting can be found in the National Gallery in London, UK. However, with the advancement of telecommunications art enthusiasts can as well access it through digital means.

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