Love and leisure: The AAM at the National Gallery

- 13 June 2013

The Academy of Ancient Music will be resident ensemble at the National Gallery this summer, providing extensive accompaniment to the gallery’s exhibition Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure.

Johannes Vermeer’s A Young Woman seated at a Virginal
Photo: © The National Gallery, London

AAM musicians will give performances every hour, on the hour, three days a week during the exhibition, which runs 26 June to 8 September.

Betsy Wieseman, the gallery’s curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings, says the exhibition ‘presents a marvellous opportunity to understand the key role that music played in 17th-century Dutch art and society’. Wieseman hopes that the AAM’s contribution will help visitors ‘experience the same sort of pleasurable musical associations our 17th-century predecessors would have had when looking at these evocative paintings’.

‘This is ‒ as far as we are aware,’ says an AAM statement, ‘the first time that live music has featured as an ongoing part of a major art exhibition, and we are delighted to be collaborating with the National Gallery on this ground-breaking project.’ Organisers expect the exhibition to be seen by more than 100,000 visitors.

Three major works by Vermeer, brought together for the first time in this exhibition, form the centrepiece of the exhibition, and each portrays female musicians: A Young Woman standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman seated at a Virginal will be joined by Vermeer’s The Guitar Player, which is on loan from Kenwood House. Vermeer’s The Music Lesson will also be on show, on loan from Her Majesty the Queen.

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