Vermeer’s concerto a trio: description of a lost masterpiece

One of Vermeer’s most enigmatic and discussed works is “The Concert for Three.” A lost masterpiece by the 17th-century Dutch master known for his intimate and luminous depictions of domestic life. This painting is one of thirteen works stolen during the famous theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990, considered one of the largest unsolved art thefts in history.


Vermeer’s Concert of Three is a particularly important painting in art history not only because of its beauty and because it perfectly represents the Dutch artist’s technical mastery, but also because it is a work of inestimable value, Vermeer’s works being limited to only a few examples.


In Concerto a tre Vermeer depicts three figures, two women and a man, intent on playing inside a room, which is clearly a private home and not a concert hall or rehearsal hall.
The composition, use of light, and interaction between the figures, who appear calm and focused, reflect Vermeer’s ability to capture the serenity and emotional depth of everyday moments.
This painting is an emblematic example of the artist’s style, which devotes other works to the theme of music, but looking at the images we are left with of the painting, it is possible to recognize his skill in depicting the interiors of a domestic environment, objects and people with the effects of light and color.

Among Vermeer’s most famous works are Milkmaid and Allegory of Painting, where the artist perhaps portrays himself, but the Concert of Three uses light and color, key elements of his style. The meticulous composition and the intense interplay of glances between the characters create a narrative that allows us to observe what is happening in a 17th-century house. In addition, the work reminds us of the cultural and social role that music played in the Dutch Golden Age.


Despite the theft the existence and appearance of the Concerto a te are well documented through photographs and detailed descriptions prior to the theft. These documents allow us to continue to study and appreciate the work today, however the loss of this painting is serious and the hope for its recovery remains alive among scholars and enthusiasts.

In March 1990, the work was stolen during the most famous art theft in history.
The canvas was stolen, along with thirteen other art objects, from the Stewart Gardner Museum di Boston.
The theft occurred overnight by two men disguised as police officers who entered the museum under the pretext of responding to an emergency call. Once inside, they immobilized the museum guards and stole the works, including Vermeer’s precious painting.
This theft is considered one of the biggest in art history, not only because of the value of the stolen pieces, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, but also because of the mystery that still shrouds the disappearance of these works. Despite numerous attempts to recover them and generous rewards offered, “Concert of Three” remains missing and its absence is a painful void for art lovers around the world.

The loss of Vermeer’s Concert in Three not only deprives the world of the opportunity to admire a masterpiece, but also underscores the vulnerability of works of art to crime and theft. The story of “The Standing Concert” and its unsolved theft continues to raise unanswered questions and is symbolic of the cultural importance of art and its impact even when a masterpiece is gone.
The ongoing search and hope for the recovery of this lost work reflects the collective desire to preserve and protect the world’s artistic heritage for future generations.

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