Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at the Virginals stays put in Virginia until the end of 2010

August 18th, 2010

The temporary stay of the Young Woman Seated at a Virginal at the Norfolk Chrysler Museum of Art has been prolonged to 1 January, 2011.

This mysterious little Vermeer, the only one in hands of a private collector, has still not received the critical scrutiny it deserves although authoritative Vermeer experts Walter Liedtke and Arthur Wheelock have both given the painting their blessings.

True, no one has ever singled it as one of the most appealing of Vermeer’s works but not all Vermeer’s are appealing, especially to the public. In a recent visit to the London National Gallery, I had the Woman Seated at the Virginal, in essence, a bigger and more complicated version of the work at the Chrysler, pretty much for myself. Despite the conspicuous volume of literature dedicated to it, which supposes just about everything and its contrary, not a single person who entered the gallery room cast more than a glance at it before moving to the next work even if they had bent forward to read the museum description plaque and had noticed the name Vermeer.

Teresa Annas takes an interesting look at the behind the scenes regarding the picture now at the Chrysler Museum in her online article of August 8 in The Virginian-Pilot.

5 Responses to “Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at the Virginals stays put in Virginia until the end of 2010”

  1. Robert

    I’m so close to this and didn’t even know it was in Norfolk. I need to get down there and see it. Thanks for the info. on this Jonathan.

  2. Alex

    I’m glad I was not the only one to observe this about the Vermeers at the National Gallery. I went to the National Gallery seeking out the Vermeers. But they were quite disappointing especially A Lady Standing at the Virginal. Knowing that Vermeer was able to paint a face as beautiful as Girl with a Pearl Earring only a few years earlier, something about the rounded/shapeless face of the Lady Standing at the Virginal looked un-Vermeer. No wonder there was not a crowd.

  3. Kakwirakeron Montour

    There is something about the picture which I have a difficult time accepting while conceding I am no expert when it comes to authentication masterworks. Still two things just grab my eye and will not let me enjoy it as a Vermeer. Number one is her left hand – it’s just so anatomically awkward…it’s not right somehow. I.E. her pinky seems to grow right out of her forearm. Am I the only one to wonder about that?
    Next is the red ‘line’ representing some sort of head gear. To my eye, and I have seen the Vermeers at the Frick and Met, that red is garish – it seems to me so out of harmony with the palette in the rest of the picture…and then again, it looks like someone squiggled a line with a red marker. As I said I am no expert but I recall reading many years ago of experts being fooled by a hack like van Meergen. I admit that this picture is far superior to anything he ever hacked out though. Thanks for reading.

  4. Jonathan Janson

    Yes, the painting is not quite right in quite a few areas. But the experts tell us that this may be due to successive restorations. I am pretty sure that the red ribbon is an over painting that evidently was originally more similar to the ribbon in the London Standing lady, rather light and airy. The rather sluggish arm and articulation of the finger is not that far from that of the seated lady (in London too) and this second passage has never elicited much admiration either. So here we have it, was is a weak painting by Vermeer (great artists do uninspired work occasionally and sometimes much more than occasionally) or are these anomalies signs that it is not authentic?
    I have seen the picture and it is better than most reproductions but there are signs that all is not well.

  5. On Ke Yi

    Can i ask some question? the question is i want the information of the a lady seated at the virginal. Because i got some assignment need this information to finish my homework.I need the information is described, analysis, interpret and judge “a lady seated at the virginal”. I hope you can help to solve this problem. I will waiter you replay.Thanks.

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