The Concert (Vermeer)

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The Concert
ArtistJohannes Vermeer
Yearcirca 1664
MediumOil on canvas
MovementDutch Golden Age painting
Dimensions72.5 cm × 64.7 cm (28.5 in × 25.5 in)
LocationWhereabouts unknown since the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990

The Concert (Dutch: Het concert) (c. 1664) is a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer depicting a man and two women performing music. It was stolen on March 18, 1990, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and remains missing.[1] Experts believe it may be the most valuable stolen object in the world;[2][3] as of 2015, it was valued at US$250 million.[4]


Although The Concert has been dated stylistically to the mid-1660s, it is first documented only in 1780.[5] It was acquired by Isabella Stewart Gardner in an 1892 auction in Paris for $5,000[6] and subsequently displayed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990, thieves disguised as policemen stole 13 works from the museum, including The Concert. To this day the painting has not resurfaced; it is thought to be the most valuable work currently unrecovered, with a value estimated at US$250 million.[4][3]


The picture measures 28.5 by 25.5 inches (72.5 by 64.7 centimetres) and shows three musicians: a young woman sitting at a harpsichord, a man playing the lute, and a woman who is singing. The harpsichord's upturned lid is decorated with an Arcadian landscape; its bright coloring stands in contrast to the two paintings hanging on the wall to the right and left. A viola da gamba can be seen lying on the floor. The musicians' clothing and surroundings identify them as members of the upper bourgeoisie. The male lute player, for instance, wears a shoulder belt and a sword. Despite its simplicity, the black and white marble flooring is luxurious and expensive.[7]

Of the two paintings in the background, the one on the right is The Procuress by Dirck Van Baburen (c. 1622), which belonged to Vermeer's mother-in-law, Maria Thins. The work also appears in his Lady Seated at a Virginal, probably painted some six years after The Concert. The painting on the left is a wild pastoral landscape. The musical theme in Dutch painting in Vermeer's time often connoted love and seduction, but in this case the feeling is more ambiguous. Although the presence of Van Baburen's sexually exuberant picture suggests such an interpretation, its function may be to provide a contrast with the actual domestic situation. In the same way, the peaceful scenes depicted on the harpsichord contrast with the wild landscape painting on the wall.[5]

Other arts[edit]

Even before the actual robbery, the theft of this painting was the subject of a 1964 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called "Ten Minutes from Now".[8][9] Following the real theft, the stolen painting has figured in the novels An Object of Beauty (2010) by Steve Martin;[10] The Medusa Plot (2011) by Gordon Korman;[11] and The Collector (2023) by Daniel Silva.[12] In addition, in Tracy Chevalier's historical novel Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999), Vermeer paints The Concert at the same time that he is painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, an event also portrayed in the 2003 film adaptation.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The $500 Million Gardner Museum Heist: Have You Seen These Paintings?". Time Magazine. March 18, 2013.
  2. ^ Gardner Museum 2018, p. 32.
  3. ^ a b Boser 2009, p. 37.
  4. ^ a b Kurkjian 2015, p. 50.
  5. ^ a b Janson, Jonathan. "Understanding The Concert by Johannes Vermeer". Essential Vermeer.
  6. ^ Gardner Museum
  7. ^ Montias, John Michael (1991). Vermeer and His Milieu. Princeton University Press. p. 192. ISBN 9780691002897.
  8. ^ Noted under Trivia in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: Ten Minutes from Now at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  9. ^ "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour - Ten Minutes from Now". The Hitchcock Zone.
  10. ^ Martin, Steve (2010). An Object of Beauty. Hachette UK. ISBN 9780297863311.
  11. ^ Korman, Gordon (2011). The Medusa Plot. New York: Scholastic. p. 132. ISBN 9780545324090.
  12. ^ Silva, Daniel (2023). The Collector. New York: Harper. ISBN 9780062834874.
  13. ^ Linda Costanzo Cahir, Literature into Film: Theory and Practical Approaches, McFarland, 2014, p.252


  • Kurkjian, Stephen (2015). Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World's Greatest Art Heist. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-61039-632-5.
  • Boser, Ulrich (2009). The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-145184-3.
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2018). Stolen. Carlisle, Massachusetts: Benna Books. ISBN 978-1-944038-52-6.

External links[edit]