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This is one of only 34 paintings by Johannes Vermeer and is one of his last works, completed in around 1672. The apparent simplicity of the painting is characteristic of Vermeer’s late style, with extraneous figures and decorative details removed in favour of exploring patterns of colour, light and shadow. Vermeer specialised in middle-class, domestic life scenes and is considered the greatest master of the painted interior. Here, an unseen visitor interrupts a young woman as she plays the guitar. Though seemingly simple, the asymmetrical composition pushes the boundaries of traditional artistic equilibrium. The young woman is seated so far forward that her elbow is cropped out of the image and her knee pushes out toward the viewer. This almost cinematic ‘close up’ view has the effect of drawing one into the painting.
The Guitar Player
oil on canvas
H 53 x W 46.3 cm
Iveagh Bequest, 1929