A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals

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A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals
Vermeer - A young Woman seated at the Virginals.jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year c. 1670–72
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 25.1 cm× 20 cm(9.9 in× 7.9 in)
Location Leiden Collection, New York

A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals is a painting generally attributed to Johannes Vermeer, though this was for a long time widely questioned. A series of technical examinations from 1993 onwards confirmed the attribution. [1] [2] It is thought to date from c.1670 and is now in part of the Leiden Collection in New York. [3] It should not be confused with Young Woman Seated at a Virginal in the National Gallery, London, also by Vermeer.

Johannes Vermeer 17th-century Dutch painter

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. He was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime but evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.

Thomas S. Kaplan is an American billionaire businessman, investor, philanthropist and art collector. An admirer of Rembrandt, Kaplan is known as the world's largest private collector of the Dutch master's works.

<i>Lady Seated at a Virginal</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

Lady Seated at a Virginal, also known as Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, is a genre painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670–72 and now in the National Gallery, London.


Provenance and attribution

The painting's early provenance is unclear, though possibly it was owned in Vermeer's lifetime by Pieter van Ruijven and later inherited by Jacob Dissius. By 1904 it was one of two Vermeers owned by Alfred Beit, the other being Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid . It remained in the Beit family until sold to Baron Rolin in 1960. [1] The painting was not widely known until described in the catalogue of the Beit collection published in 1904. [4] In the first decades following 1904 it was widely accepted as a Vermeer. Then in the mid-twentieth century, as some "Vermeers" were discovered to be forgeries by Han van Meegeren and doubt was cast on others, it fell from favour. [1]

Provenance Chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object

Provenance is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object. The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including archaeology, paleontology, archives, manuscripts, printed books and science and computing. The primary purpose of tracing the provenance of an object or entity is normally to provide contextual and circumstantial evidence for its original production or discovery, by establishing, as far as practicable, its later history, especially the sequences of its formal ownership, custody and places of storage. The practice has a particular value in helping authenticate objects. Comparative techniques, expert opinions and the results of scientific tests may also be used to these ends, but establishing provenance is essentially a matter of documentation. The term dates to the 1780s in English. Provenance is conceptually comparable to the legal term chain of custody.

Pieter van Ruijven Dutch patron

Pieter Claesz. van Ruijven is best known as Johannes Vermeer's patron for the better part of the artist's career.

Jacob Abrahamsz. Dissius was a Dutch typographer and printer. He is most notable as an art collector and for his links to Johannes Vermeer - his collection included 21 Vermeer works and in 1680 he married Madgdalene, daughter and sole heir of Vermeer's main patron Pieter van Ruijven. Dissius died in 1695 and his collection was auctioned off in Amsterdam the following year.

In 1993 Baron Rolin asked Sotheby's to conduct research into the painting. [1] A series of technical examinations followed, which have convinced most experts that it is a Vermeer, though probably one that was reworked in parts after the painter's death. [2] Rolin's heirs sold the painting through Sotheby's in 2004 to Steve Wynn for $30 million. It was later purchased for the Leiden Collection owned by Thomas Kaplan. [3] It has appeared in several Vermeer exhibitions in recent years, in the United States, Britain, Japan, Italy [5] and France.

Sotheby's is a British founded American multinational corporation headquartered in New York City. One of the world's largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles, Sotheby's operation is divided into three segments: auction, finance, and dealer. The company's services range from corporate art services to private sales. It is named after one of its cofounders, John Sotheby.

Steve Wynn American businessman

Stephen Alan Wynn is an American real estate businessman and art collector. He is known for his involvement in the American luxury casino and hotel industry. Early in his career he oversaw the construction and operation of several notable Las Vegas and Atlantic City hotels, including the Golden Nugget, the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, The Mirage, Treasure Island, the Bellagio, and Beau Rivage in Mississippi, and he played a pivotal role in the resurgence and expansion of the Las Vegas Strip in the 1990s. In 2000, Wynn sold his company, Mirage Resorts, to MGM Grand Inc., resulting in the formation of MGM Mirage. Wynn later took his company Wynn Resorts public in an initial public offering, and was Wynn Resorts' CEO and Chairman of the Board until February 6, 2018, when he announced his resignation. He is a prominent donor to the Republican Party, and was the finance chair of the Republican National Committee from January 2017 to January 2018, when he resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Description and evidence for attribution

The painting originally had the same dimensions as Vermeer's Lacemaker . Tentative evidence that the canvas was cut from the same bolt as the Lacemaker, which was gathered in the 1990s, was strengthened by a later, more sophisticated study. [6] [7] The ground appears identical to that used for the two Vermeers owned by London's National Gallery. X-ray examination has revealed evidence of a pin-hole at the vanishing point, as habitually used by Vermeer in conjunction with a thread to achieve correct perspective in his paintings. [6] Pigments are used in the painting in a way typical of Vermeer, most notably the expensive ultramarine as a component in the background wall. [8] The use of green earth in shadows is also distinctive. The use of lead-tin-yellow suggests that the painting cannot be a nineteenth- or twentieth-century fake or imitation. [6] Examination of the cloak, often cited as the crudest part of the painting, shows that it was painted over another garment after some time had elapsed. It is not known how long this gap was, or if Vermeer was responsible for the repainting. [9]

<i>The Lacemaker</i> (Vermeer) painting by Johannes Vermeer

The Lacemaker is a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), completed around 1669–1670 and held in the Louvre, Paris. The work shows a young woman dressed in a yellow shawl, holding up a pair of bobbins in her left hand as she carefully places a pin in the pillow on which she is making her bobbin lace. At 24.5 cm x 21 cm, the work is the smallest of Vermeer's paintings, but in many ways one of his most abstract and unusual. The canvas used was cut from the same bolt as that used for A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, and both paintings seem to have had identical dimensions originally.

Canvas Extremely heavy-duty plain-woven fabric

Canvas is an extremely durable plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. It is also popularly used by artists as a painting surface, typically stretched across a wooden frame. It is also used in such fashion objects as handbags, electronic device cases, and shoes.

Vanishing point point in the picture plane that is the intersection of the projections (or drawings) of a set of parallel lines in space on to the picture plane

A vanishing point is a point on the image plane of a perspective drawing where the two-dimensional perspective projections of mutually parallel lines in three-dimensional space appear to converge. When the set of parallel lines is perpendicular to a picture plane, the construction is known as one-point perspective, and their vanishing point corresponds to the oculus, or "eye point", from which the image should be viewed for correct perspective geometry. Traditional linear drawings use objects with one to three sets of parallels, defining one to three vanishing points.

The hairstyle can be dated to c.1670, and matches the hairstyle in the Lacemaker, which on other grounds is also often dated to the same period. [1] [2] It is not clear if the painting was completed before or after the similar but more ambitious Young Woman Seated at a Virginal in the National Gallery, London. The painting is unsigned. [2]

Criticism and interpretation

Walter Liedtke has described the painting as a "minor late work" by Vermeer. [5] The colour scheme is typical of Vermeer's mature work. The "luminosity and finely modelled passages" of the young woman's skirt recall the Lady Standing at a Virginal and are often cited as the painting's best feature, contrasting with the less skillfully painted cloak which may be the work of a later artist. [6] The blurring of objects in the foreground, the quality of the light and the attention paid to the texture of the wall are typical of Vermeer, while the handling of the pearls in the woman's hair recalls the threads spilling from the cushion in the Lacemaker. [10]

Walter Arthur Liedtke, Jr. was an American art historian, writer and Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was known as one of the world's leading scholars of Dutch and Flemish paintings. He died in the 2015 Metro-North Valhalla train crash.

<i>Lady Standing at a Virginal</i> 1670 painting by Johannes Vermeer

Lady Standing at a Virginal is a genre painting created by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670–1672, now in the National Gallery, London.

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  3. 1 2 "Young Woman Seated at a Virginal". The Leiden Collection. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
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  9. Sivel, V.; Dik, J.; Alkemade, P.; Sheldon, L.; Zandbergen, H. (2007). "The cloak of Young Woman Seated at a Virginal: Vermeer, or a later hand?". Art Matters, Netherlands Technical Studies in Art. 4: 91–96.
  10. Weiseman, Marjorie E. (2011). Vermeer's women: secrets and silence. Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum in association with Yale University Press. ISBN   978-0-300-17899-9.