Exhibition: Vermeer and Music

What: Vermeer and Music The Art of Love and Leisure.
An exhibition examining the role of music in 17th century Dutch painting, including 5 works by Vermeer.
Where: National Gallery of London
When: Until 8th September 2013
Cost: Entrance: £7, Audio Guides £3 – but definitely worth it!

Vermeer & Music, at the National Gallery, London

Vermeer & Music, at the National Gallery, London

This temporary exhibition in the National Gallery of London explores the theme of music in 17th century Dutch painting. The exhibition culminates in five beautiful works by Vermeer, and also features works by artists such as Carl Fabritius, Peter van der Hooch, Jan Steen and Gabriel Metsu as well as 17th century instruments and songbooks. It’s well worth getting the audio guide (£3) as you’re going around the exhibition – as well as comments by the curator of the exhibition, it features music experts from the Academy  who discuss the instruments and play pieces of music from the period.

My ticket, and the exhibition leaflet.

My ticket, and the exhibition leaflet.

It’s a rare thing to see so many Vermeers in one room – the five paintings on show represent a seventh of the artist’s total body of work. Prior to visiting this exhibition, I had only seen one Vermeer in person (Woman Writing A Letter, in the National Gallery of Ireland); to see so many Vermeer paintings together was quite an experience! Three paintings of women playing music hang on the same wall, representing a popular theme in Vermeer’s work. One of these, The Guitar Player, is on loan from Kenwood House. Another painting on display is The Music Lesson. This is an interesting work in that the figures are at the very back of the painting, meaning the viewer is looking in on a very intimate scene. All these paintings showcase what is so wonderful about Vermeer’s style – his mastery of light and detail.

Vermeer goodies! Bag, catalogue and postcard.

Vermeer goodies! Bag, catalogue, leaflet and postcard.

When I visited with my sister and a friend, we spent two hours going around the exhibition. It’s really wonderful, the detail of the Dutch paintings is incredible, and the theme of music is certainly an interesting one. My sister is a music student, so she particularly enjoyed seeing all the instruments on display. The paintings in the exhibition are mostly genre scenes, but there are also portraits and still lifes featuring musical instruments. This is a fascinating exhibition, one that any fan of Vermeer, or Dutch art in general, should definitely see!

Exciting News! (Of book guides and gallery tours)

Isn't it lovely? Cover illustration by the wonderful Niamh Sharkey (current Laureate na nÓg)

Isn’t it lovely? Cover illustration by the wonderful Niamh Sharkey (current Laureate na nÓg)

The new Mad About Books guide was launched recently, it’s a guide published by Dubray Books to help parents, teachers, librarians or young readers find great new reads. This is exciting news for me because I was an assistant editor on the project. I proof read the document, did one of the reviews (of Mo Willem’s charming picture book Knuffle Bunny) and wrote several author profiles. It was wonderful to see my name printed in the credits! (see image below) The guide is a great resource; fiction books are separated into different age categories, there are also sections for poetry and non-fiction, as well as an excellent piece at the end on books about different issues. There are also lots of author profiles, interviews and book suggestions. I would highly recommend it for finding books for all ages, babies, children, young adults, or adults like myself with a passion for children’s and teen fiction. All that, and more, for only €2!

My name (Jenny Duffy) is at the end of the first paragraph. Excitement!

My name (Jenny Duffy) is at the end of the first paragraph. Excitement!

And my other piece of exciting news is that today I gave my first tour in the National Gallery of Ireland! The group was over in Dublin for a conference, and I showed them around the Irish rooms. I was quite nervous, but once I got into the tour I had a lot of fun, and I feel it went really well. Thankfully, the group seemed to think so too! This tour was a one-off, but I’m hoping to do more tour guiding in the future. Onwards and upwards!

Coming soon: lots of arty London posts, Mountains to Sea book festival madness and more reviews. Happy reading!