The Concert (Vermeer)
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||72.5 cm × 64.7 cm (28.5 in × 25.5 in)|
|Location||Whereabouts unknown since the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990|
The Concert (c. 1664) is a painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer which depicts a man and two women performing music. It belonged to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, but was stolen in 1990 and remains missing. On account of this circumstance, it has been the subject of a large number of popular allusions.
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 are identified by their clothing and surroundings as members of the upper bourgeoisie. The male lute player, for instance, wears a shoulder belt and a sword. And for all its restraint, the black and white marble flooring is luxurious and expensive.
Of the two paintings in the background, the one on the right is The Procuress by Dirck Van Baburen, 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.
Although The Concert has been dated stylistically to the mid-1660s, it is first documented only in 1780. It was then acquired by Isabella Stewart Gardner in an 1892 auction in Paris for $5,000 and subsequently displayed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990, thieves disguised as policemen stole 13 works out of 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 over $200,000,000.
Even before this episode, the theft of this painting was made the subject of a 1964 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called "Ten Minutes from Now". Following the real theft, the stolen painting has figured in various TV and animated series as well as two novels: An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (2010) and The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman (2011). 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, and the episode is also repeated in the 2003 film made from it.
- "The $500 Million Gardner Museum Heist: Have You Seen These Paintings?". Time Magazine. March 18, 2013.
- John Michael Montias, Vermeer and His Milieu, Princeton University 1991, p.192
- Janson, Jonathan. "Understanding The Concert by Johannes Vermeer".
- "Netflix - Watch TV Shows Online, Watch Movies Online".
- Stolen, a documentary about the theft of The Concert, from the PBS website.
- Noted under Trivia at IMDb
- The Hitchcock Zone
- Published by Hachette UK,, %22%20%20%22Vermeer%22&f=false chapter 33
- Published by Scholastic Inc, p.132
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