Sunday, May 20, 2012

Aspirational Interiors

Yale University Press has published Vermeer's Women, the catalog of a recent show at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Lady Seated at a Virginal

The Lacemaker

Desmond Shawe-Taylor reviewed the catalog in the May issue of Apollo. The paragraph quoted here applies in several specific ways to the Vermeer immediately above, traditionally known as The Music Lesson, on loan to the exhibition from the Royal Collection.

"We also learn from a detailed study of the evidence of real domestic interiors of the period that the Dutch genre painters were aspirational, depicting the rarest luxuries marbled tiled floors, chandeliers, keyboard instruments as if every home should have them. The enfilades of sun-lit rooms they painted  would only have been possible in the grandest country houses of the period. Presumably the costumes, jewellery and other furnishings were similarly 'rounded up' in the interests of glamour, especially in scenes of toilet and elegant courtship. The 'French schools' (what we would now call 'finishing schools') of the period taught the mores of high life, and the genre painters showed what it should all look like, much as advertising and commercial cinema today make an improbably glamourous world seem somehow familiar and within reach."  

Publicity still for Sex and the City 2 (2010)