News item from 2012


Masterpiece By Vermeer Goes On Loan To The Ashmolean Museum

From Tuesday 24 January visitors to the Ashmolean Museum will have the rare opportunity to see the only privately-owned painting by Johannes Vermeer (1632–75). Young Woman Seated at a Virginal is a late masterpiece by the Delft painter, dating from around 1670. It will be displayed in the Ashmolean’s new Dutch Art Gallery until September.

Vermeer is an extremely rare artist, having painted a small number of works, of which only 30 have survived. The subject of a young woman playing a musical instrument in a modest domestic interior was painted by Vermeer on a number of occasions. This is his last known treatment of the subject, with a characteristic emphasis on the delicate fall of light on the woman, catching in the folds of her clothes and on the instrument, with a wall behind her.

Young Woman Seated at a Virginal will be installed in the Ashmolean’s Dutch Art Gallery where it can be seen alongside other works from the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ which include Portrait of a Woman by Frans Hals (also on loan from a private collection); paintings by Albert Cuyp, Jacob van Ruisdael and Gabriel Metsu; decorative arts and Delftware porcelain.

Dr Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean and Curator for Dutch and Flemish Art, said, “I am naturally thrilled that this important painting, the only work by the Delft master in a private collection, will be going on display at the Ashmolean. Thanks to the generosity of the owner, who has loaned the Vermeer and other works from his collection, this painting can be enjoyed by all our visitors, for free, for the next nine months.”


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