Johannes Vermeer Paints The Concert

The similarities between The Concert and The Music Lesson are such that they have often been dated at the same time.

Both the conception of the scene and the painting techniques of The Concert, however, place it around 1665-66, sometime after the conception of The Music Lesson. The mood of The Concert is more relaxed than that of The Music Lesson. The figures seem to belong naturally to the room and to participate in the rhythm of the music. The case in their demeanor probably resulted from Vermeer's experiences in depicting the series of single figures during the years 1662 to 1665.

The music-making trio in a compact group presents itself sufficiently close to our vision so that the viewer shares in the earnest concentration of the figures. This slightly removed part of the painting is particularly rich in details, almost pictures within the picture. On the far wall to the right, we find Baburen's Procuress, which was part of Vermeer's stock as an art dealer. To the left is a landscape in the style of Jacob van Ruisdael. The two are linked by the landscape on the raised cover of the clavecin done in the then-fashionable style of the Italianizing Dutch landscape painters such as Jan Both.

For Vermeer, such a crowding of decorative elements is rather unusual, and has therefore encouraged critics to attempt various interpretations of the meaning of the scene. They range from calling it a brothel (de Mirimonde) to a domestic scene with the lady to the right being the personification of temperance (I. L. Moreno)! In any case, the amateur seeking purely aesthetic pleasure will find delight in the perfection of the composition, the delicate execution of the figures, as well as of the paraphernalia, and the masterly use of diffused light enveloping the actors. In this work, Vermeer stands greatly above his contemporaries de Hooch, Jan Steen, Metsu, and many others, in harmony, grandeur, and artistic skill.