The Concert (Vermeer)

The Concert
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year circa 1664
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 72.5 cm × 64.7 cm (28.5 in × 25.5 in)
Location Whereabouts unknown since the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery in 1990.

The Concert (c. 1664) is a painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. The 69 centimeter high by 63 centimeter wide picture depicts a man and two women playing music. It belongs to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, but was stolen in March 1990 and remains missing to this day.[1] It is thought to be the most valuable unrecovered stolen painting, with a value estimated at over $200,000,000.[2]


The picture shows three musicians: a young woman sitting at a harpsichord, a man playing a lute, and a woman who is singing. The harpsichord's upturned lid is decorated with an Arcadian landscape, whose bright colouring stands in contrast to the two paintings hanging on the wall to the right and left. Stringed instruments lie on and under the table in the picture's left foreground.

Of the two paintings in the background, the one on the right is The Procuress by Dirck van Baburen, a work which also appears in Vermeer's Lady Seated at a Virginal, probably painted around six years after The Concert. The painting on the left is a wild pastoral landscape. The musical theme in Dutch painting in Vermeer's time often connoted love and seduction,[3] a motif reinforced by the presence of Baburen's sexually exuberant picture.


The location of the painting was unknown for a long time. Sold in Amsterdam in 1696, it did not reappear until 1780.[3] It was acquired by Isabella Stewart Gardner in an 1892 auction in Paris for $5000[4] and subsequently displayed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, beginning in 1903. On the night of March 18, 1990 thieves disguised as policemen stole 13 paintings out of the museum, including The Concert. To this day the painting has not resurfaced.[5]

The Concert in popular culture

  • An Object of Beauty, a novel by Steve Martin (2010), includes an unresolved plot line involving the theft of The Concert from the Stewart Gardner museum.
  • Stolen, a documentary film about the theft of The Concert was produced in 2006 by Persistence of Vision Films.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, American History X-cellent (original air date: April 11, 2010), Mr. Burns is jailed after he is discovered to have The Concert among his collection.
  • In an episode of The Venture Brothers Victor. Echo. November. The Concert along with Storm on the Sea of Galilee and several other noted works are displayed among Phantom Limb's collection of stolen art.
  • In an episode of Gallery Fake "Duet". Fujita is talked into representing a buyer in a black market auction of "The Concert".
  • In an episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert claims to be in possession of the work.
  • In The 39 Clues: The Medusa Plot The Painting is found by Amy and Dan Cahill in Italy.
  • In a 1964 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called "Ten Minutes From Now," an art thief is shown stealing this painting from a museum.

See also

  • List of famous stolen paintings


External links

  • Vermeer and The Delft School, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on the painting
  • Critical Assessment: The Concert