In Review

Vermeer paintings at National Gallery are 'absolutely sublime'

NG's new show, Vermeer and Music, offers a rare opportunity to see Vermeer masterpieces

What you need to knowThe National Gallery's summer exhibition, Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure has opened to the public. The exhibition displays key works of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries along with musical instruments, songbooks and live music.

Four Vermeer masterpieces portraying musicians provide the centrepiece of the show. They are accompanied by works by Vermeer contemporaries such as Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch and by Gerard ter Borch.

The show will also feature live performances of music from the period by the Academy of Ancient Music. Runs until 8 September.

What the critics like The four central Vermeer paintings look "absolutely sublime", says Mark Hudson in the Daily Telegraph. "Everything about these paintings, the cool light, the geometry, the sense of space and of time captured seems perfectly resolved and integrated."

This is "a rather wonderful exhibition", says Michael Berkeley on BBC's Front Row. The show offers a rare opportunity to see some great Vermeer masterpieces together and explains why music was so important in Vermeer's time.

"There are compositions of such ingenuity in Dutch art that sound is very nearly evoked," says Laura Cumming in The Guardian. In the works on show, such as the portrait of the poet and composer Constantijn Huygens and his wife, or Vermeer's Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (above), the music is all in the painting.

What they don't like The name Vermeer will inevitably draw a proportion of the gallery-going population, but this isn't a blockbuster, says Mark Hudson in the Telegraph. Rather, it's "an interesting room display bulked out with academic information and cases of musical instruments".

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