Rijksmuseum to Stage the Largest Vermeer Exhibition Ever

  • December 05, 2021 22:16

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Johannes Vermeer, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, 1665.
Mauritshuis in The Hague

In the spring of 2023, the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, will dedicate a retrospective exhibition to the 17th-century master Johannes Vermeer for the first time in its history. With loans from all over the world, this promises to be the largest Vermeer exhibition ever. The Rijksmuseum itself has four masterpieces by Vermeer, including the world-famous Milkmaid and The Little Street.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis in The Hague. Preparations for the exhibition are currently underway. Both museums will conduct research into Vermeer's artistry, his artistic choices and motivations for his compositions, as well as into the creative process of his paintings.

Johannes Vermeer, The Little Street, ca. 1658.

The Rijksmuseum's exhibition in 2023 will include masterpieces such as The Girl with a Pearl Earring (Mauritshuis, The Hague), The Geographer (Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main), Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid (The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin) and Woman Holding a Balance (The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC). Works never before shown to the public in the Netherlands will include the newly restored Girl Reading a Letter at the Open Window from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.

The Vermeer exhibition will be on view from February 10 to June 4, 2023 in the Rijksmuseum.

Taco Dibbits, Director of the Rijksmuseum, noted: "Vermeer is one of the most famous painters in the Netherlands, along with Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Mondrian. We would not have thought it possible that so many museums are willing to lend their masterpieces. We are incredibly grateful to them. With this exhibition we can introduce a new generation to Vermeer's painting at the highest level and present the results of the latest research."

Martine Gosselink, Director of the Mauritshuis, added: "The Girl with the Pearl Earring is the most famous Dutch girl worldwide. We are very happy to lend her out for this unique collaboration, where she and two other works from the Mauritshuis, Vermeer's View of Delft and Diana and her Nymphs, will be seen. Yes, we will miss her terribly, but a Vermeer exhibition without The Girl is simply not a Vermeer exhibition."

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) lived and worked in Delft. His work is best known for his tranquil, introverted indoor scenes, his unprecedented use of bright, colorful light and his convincing illusionism. In contrast to Rembrandt, Vermeer left a remarkably small oeuvre with about 35 paintings.

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid, ca. 1660.

As his paintings are generally considered the most prized treasures of every museum collection, Vermeer paintings are rarely lent out. There is currently an exhibition in Dresden with works by Vermeer on the occasion of the restoration of his Girl Reading a Letter at the Open Window. This exhibition includes two works by Vermeer, The Little Street and the Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, from the Rijksmuseum collection.

Parallel to the Vermeer exhibition in the Rijksmuseum, Museum Prinsenhof Delft will organise the exhibition Vermeer’s Delft (February 10 to June 4, 2023). This will be the first ever exhibition to explore in depth the cultural-historical context in which Vermeer's practice flourished. Works by Delft contemporaries will be displayed alongside Delft pottery, Delft carpets, archival materials and letters.

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