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Striking the Right Chord: Seeing Music in Dutch Genre Painting

Jennifer Henel, curatorial coordinator for digital content, department of curatorial records and files. When looking at 17th-century Dutch genre painting, we see a story, recall a memory, or marvel at its craftsmanship and beauty. For some, there is yet another layer of experience in hearing these remarkable paintings. What kind of cadence do we see and hear; what is the timing and tempo of the music? What kind of major and minor keys do we see and hear? This lecture, given on December 5, 2017, explores synesthesia and the lens of music to interpret selected works from the landmark exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry. On view from October 22, 2017, through January 21, 2018, the exhibition examines the artistic exchanges among Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries from the mid-1650s to around 1680, when they reached the height of their technical ability and mastery of genre painting.