December 8, 2022

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Research: "The Girl with the Flute" is not by Vermeer |  The art and literature

Research: “The Girl with the Flute” is not by Vermeer | The art and literature

It has been in doubt for some time, but it is now official: the painting “The Girl with the Flute” is not by the well-known Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). That’s according to new research, reports the Washington Post.

Scholars have long doubted whether the work was by the Dutch painter, because it does not look good enough. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, the owner of the painting, saw an opportunity to examine the work more closely when the Corona pandemic broke out and the museum was forced to close its doors for a longer period of time. The National Gallery of Art reported during a press conference that the painting – along with three others by Vermeer – had been removed from the wall and taken to a preservation laboratory.

Curator Marjorie Wiseman said the research sheds more light on Vermeer’s working process. This additional knowledge, she says, enabled the research team to determine that “the girl with the flute” was not the work of the painter.

grainy quality

For example, in comparison with another painting by Vermeer, which also belongs to the Museum, it was found that coarse-earth pigments were not used for the lower layers and finer ground pigments were used for the last layers, as Vermeer did. The person who made “The Girl with the Flute” did the exact opposite. This gave the surface a granular quality.

The girl with the flute © National Gallery of Art

Fragments of bristles were also found in the superficial layers of the plate, indicating the use of an old or poorly made brush. According to the newspaper, Wiseman said, “The artist has a conceptual understanding of how Vermeer constructed his paintings, but it lacks subtlety.”
According to the research team, “Girl with the Flute” was created by an artist who could be a student, apprentice, or hobbyist who was taught by a teacher. This person had understood the technique, but his skills in executing it were extremely limited.

Since Vermeer has long been considered a lone wolf who worked without assistants or students, these new discoveries raise questions, writes The Washington Post. Thus, the question is who was this artist who had access to Vermeer’s studio and who used many of the same materials.

There are about 35 paintings known worldwide that are attributed to Vermeer. The Girl with the Flute was rediscovered in 1906 and donated to the National Gallery of Art in 1942.


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