Johannes Vermeer Paints The Music Lesson

On the far side of a sunlit room with double windows a young woman stands to play on a clavecin.

A man in elegant dress watches her and listens intently. Both figures are quiet and statuesque, as though the music were measured and restrained. Indeed, this painting is one of the most refined works in Vermeer's oeuvre. In it, figures, musical instruments, picture, mirror, table, tile patterns, and chairs, however realistically presented, are conceived as patterns of color and shape.

Such abstract design principles are generally associated with the twentieth century.

Of the many paintings from the period that feature the virginal, none captures as well as Vermeer's the balance and harmony of its music or the elegance and refinement of the world to which it belonged. Every object in Vermeer's spacious interior is as carefully considered and identified as the notes in a song by Huygens, yet these independent entities are likewise carefully orchestrated to be brought together into a whole whose mood is based upon a firm mathematical and geometric foundation.