Urgent Museum Notice

Prelude to a Concert

Close up of Prelude to a Concert

A blonde, light-skinned woman in a white satin gown holds music and sits on a settee. Bright light accentuates the singer, casting the dark-haired woman standing behind her with a guitar into murky shadow. A cat crouches on a music-strewn table, staring at the pert lapdog below.
A blonde, light-skinned woman in a white satin gown holds music and sits on a settee. Bright light accentuates the singer, casting the dark-haired woman standing behind her with a guitar into murky shadow. A cat crouches on a music-strewn table, staring at the pert lapdog below.
Marguerite Gérard, Prelude to a Concert, ca. 1810; Oil on canvas, 22 1/4 x 18 3/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

By the early 1780s, Marguerite Gérard had produced many genre paintings featuring affluent women making music, taking lessons or, as here, rehearsing for informal concerts.

The musical instrument shown in this painting is typical of European guitars from the 18th and 19th centuries. Smaller than the modern guitar, it has a flat bottom, a decorative rosette set into the sound hole, and only five strings (versus the now common six).

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Marguerite Gérard
  • Title

    Prelude to a Concert
  • Date

    ca. 1810
  • Medium

    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions

    22 1/4 x 18 3/4 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display

    Yes