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The Guitar Player,  1672,  53x46 cm
London, Kenwood, Iveagh Bequest 

This late Vermeer is a beautiful, glowing image of a girl playing the guitar. It is painted with planes of color rather than with outline; the brushwork is free and soft, giving tha painting a shimmering delicacy. There is an abstract pattern formed by the shape of her hair ringlets.

The girl is placed asymmetrically, far to the left, and her arm is cut off by the edge of the painting. Behind her is a landscape, also left of center, and she looks left to a point outside the painting. At the right is shadow, a curtained window, and some books. Presumably Vermeer has experimented by purposely upsetting the careful compositional balance evident in his earlier paintings.

A month after Vermeer's death, in January 1676, this and another painting were used to settle a debt of 617 guilders with Hendrick van Buyten, the master baker of Delft. In 1974, the painting was stolen from Kenwood House by supporters of the IRA, and found in a churchyard ten weeks later.


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