Lady Seated at a Virginal

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Lady Seated at a Virginal
Lady Seated at a Virginal, Vermeer, The National Gallery, London.jpg
ArtistJohannes Vermeer
Yearc. 1670–1672[1]
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions51.5 cm × 45.5 cm (20.3 in × 17.9 in)[1]
LocationNational Gallery, London

Lady Seated at a Virginal (Dutch: Zittende virginaalspeelster), also known as Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, is a genre painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670–1672 and now in the National Gallery, London.[2]

Lady Seated at a Virginal[edit]

Another painting, probably also by Johannes Vermeer known as A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, belongs to a private collection shows also a young woman seated at a virginal. This painting and Lady Seated at a Virginal are quite separate works and are each known by alternate names and confusion between those two pieces may exist.


The picture shows a woman facing left and playing a virginal. In the left foreground is a viola da gamba holding a bow between its strings.[2] A landscape is painted on the inside lid of the virginal, and the painting on the wall is either the original or a copy of The Procuress by Dirck van Baburen (c. 1622, now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston), which belonged to Vermeer's mother-in-law.[2]


Because of its style, the painting has been dated to about 1670. It has been suggested that it and Lady Standing at a Virginal (also owned by the National Gallery) may have been created as pendants, because their sizes, date and subject matter are all similar. A recent study has shown that the canvas for the two paintings came from the same bolt.[3] In addition, the ground applied to the canvas appears identical to that used for both the Lady Standing and the New York Young Woman Seated.[4] However their provenances before the 19th century differ, and Vermeer sometimes varied a theme in otherwise unrelated paintings. In the 19th century, both paintings were owned by the art critic Théophile Thoré, whose writings led to a resurgence of interest in Vermeer starting in 1866. The painting entered the National Gallery with the Salting Bequest in 1910.[2]

The painting is one of several works by Vermeer featuring keyboard instruments, including The Music Lesson, The Concert, and Lady Standing at a Virginal. Scholars believe these may all be based on the same instrument, built by Johannes Ruckers.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Key facts: A Young Woman seated at a Virginal". National Gallery (London) web site. Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d "A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal". National Gallery, London web site. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  3. ^ Liedtke, Walter; Johnson, C. Richard, Jr.; Johnson, Don H. "Canvas matches in Vermeer: a case study in the computer analysis of canvas supports" (PDF). Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  4. ^ Sheldon, Libby; Costaras, Nicolas (2006). "Johannes Vermeer's Young Woman Seated at a Virginal". Burlington Magazine. 148: 89–97.
  5. ^ Bennett, William Ralph Jr. The Science of Musical Sound. Springer. p. 82. ISBN 9783319927961.
  6. ^ Huerta, Robert D. (2003). Giants of Delft: Johannes Vermeer and the Natural Philosophers : the Parallel Search for Knowledge During the Age of Discovery. Bucknell University Press. p. 105. ISBN 9780838755389.

Further reading[edit]