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Johannes Vermeer in Amsterdam

It is certain that I specialized in the 19th century. But I couldn't ignore one of the greatest artistic events of the decade, so much so that I made the trip to Amsterdam to meet Johannes Vermeer.

With 28 works from all over the world - from Japan to the United States - the largest solo exhibition ever dedicated to the Delft master is presented until June 4, 2023 at the Rijskmuseum.

Many paintings are shown for the first time to the Dutch public, such as three works from the Frick Collection in New York, the "Young girl reading a letter at the window" from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden and "the glass of wine" from the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.

Johannes Vermeer. Le verre de vin. 1659-1661. Gemäldegalerie Berlin
Johannes Vermeer. Le verre de vin. 1659-1661. Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) lived and worked in Delft. He grew up in his father's art dealership and was raised in the Reform religion. When he married, he joined a Catholic family. He had fourteen or fifteen children, eleven of whom reached adulthood.

- Drink! I tell you. This horseman strapped in a cloak of price does not lack assurance, as evidenced by the martial pose. He has probably just arrived and hasn't spent a second to offer a drink to the young woman, who doesn't waste a drop of the beverage (we imagined it was wine, when nothing, in particular, does attest it).

Johannes Vermeer. Dame et sa suivante. 1665-1667. The Frik collection. New-York. ©  Joseph Coscia Jr
Johannes Vermeer. Dame et sa suivante. 1665-1667. The Frik collection. New-York. © Joseph Coscia Jr

In addition to being a painter, Johannes Vermeer was an art dealer and foreman of the Guild of Saint Luke for artists. His work is best known for his hushed, introverted interior scenes, his unprecedented use of bright, colorful light, and his compelling illusionism. Unlike Rembrandt Van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer left a remarkably modest oeuvre of 37 paintings. 7 of his paintings are in the Netherlands, 4 in the Rijksmuseum, including the "Milkmaid" and the "Little Street", and three in the Mauritshuis, including the "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and "View of Delft". His style is often described as "calm" and "contemplative", with particular attention to detail and texture.

- Madam, a letter has just arrived. The servant has just interrupted her mistress, who was just writing. Astonishment, surprise, slight annoyance at having been interrupted, quickly erased by curiosity. Whose letter is it brought to me? "

Johannes Vermeer. Femme à la balance. 1662-1664. National Gallery of Art Washington D.C.
Johannes Vermeer. Femme à la balance. 1662-1664. National Gallery of Art Washington D.C.

Most of Johannes Vermeer's figures, especially women, have their faces turned towards a source of light that comes from the left of the painting. There is no shortage of symbols in the painter's evocations, such as love, surprise, vanity.

The woman with the scale is estimating the value of precious jewels on the table. When we look carefully at the painting which is hung behind the character, we realize that it is about the last judgment. This no doubt reminds us that the soul of the young woman will one day also be evaluated and judged.


Museumstraat 1,

Amsterdam


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