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.