Oil on canvas, 1658–1660, 28.5 x 25.5 inches
Stolen from: The Dutch Room. The painting was lifted from its easel and removed whole from its frame.
Significance: This is a masterpiece for many reasons. First, only 34 Vermeers are believed to exist. Second, Vermeer was a master of light and mystery. “There’s an element of complexity that all great works of art have,” Chong says. “You can pick out the technicalities — we know the light falls from the left and that people singing and playing music is a traditional Dutch theme, but all those facts don’t add up to this painting.”
Worth noting: The painting on the right in this scene depicts a real work, The Procuress, by Dirck van Baburen, which Vermeer’s wealthy mother-in-law once owned—and which now, astonishingly, hangs in our own MFA.