Vermeer-related lecture

February 28th, 2015
steadman

LUNCH HOUR LECTURE: VERMEER’S CAMERA AND TIM’S VERMEER
Philip Steadman
Darwin Lecture Theatre, Darwin Building, London
March 5, 2015, 13:15-13:55
price: free
contact: +44 (0)20 3108 3841 | events@ucl.ac.uk
event page

In 2001 Philip Steadman published Vermeer’s Camera, a book that offered new evidence that the great Dutch painter relied on optical methods. An American video engineer Tim Jenison read the book and, believing he could take the argument further, proposed a simple arrangement of lens and mirrors that Vermeer might have employed. Jenison used this setup to paint a version of Vermeer’s Music Lesson in the Queen’s collection. The process was filmed for the Oscar-shortlisted documentary Tim’s Vermeer, released in 2014. Jenison’s method throws more light, literally, on how Vermeer could have achieved his distinctively “photographic” tonal effects.

The lecture will be streamed live online and recorded for YouTube or downloaded.

Walter Liedtke dies in tragic train crash

February 8th, 2015
walter

Walter Liedtke, Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and renowned Vermeer expert, died in the train incident outside New York on the evening of February 3. Walter was returning to his home in Bedford Hills, where he lived with his wife, Nancy. As was his habit, he was riding the front “quiet car,” in which he found the tranquility necessary for writing and reading. Five other people died in the accident.

Walter conjugated culture, curiosity, passion and rigor in whatever he wrote and in all the exhibitions he curated, whether it be the monumental Vermeer and the Delft School or the intimately scaled Vermeer’s Masterpiece: ‘The Milkmaid’. The catalogue of the former remains a fundamental contribution to the proper contextualization of the artist. His monograph (Vermeer: The Complete Paintings) constitutes a finely nuanced reading of the artist’s unique accomplishments in the light of modern Vermeer scholarship. But Walter’s interest in things Vermeer was wide and varied enough to comprise a computerized analysis of the weave of the artist’s canvases. 

Walter’s energy, brilliance and organizational capacity allowed him to publish extensively and curate a number of key exhibitions at the Metropolitan.

His most important exhibitions include:
Vermeer: il secolo d’oro dell’arte olandese (September 2012-January 2013), Rembrandt at Work: The Great Portrait from Kenwood House (April-May 2012), Vermeer’s Masterpiece: The Milkmaid (September-November 2009), The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (September 2007-January 2008) and Vermeer and the Delft School (June-September 2001). The latter brought in over 500,000 visitors to the Metropolitan.

His most important publications include:
Vermeer: The Complete Paintings (2008), Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2001), Vermeer and the Delft School (1995), Rembrandt/not Rembrandt in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship (1992) and Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1982).

remembering Walter:

Walter Liedtke, Curator at Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dies at 69
—Randy Kennedy
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/arts/design/walter-liedtke-curator-at-metropolitan-museum-of-art-dies-at-69.html?_r=0 \>

Walter Liedtke: A Reflection and Appreciation
—Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/walter-liedtke-a-reflection-and-appreciation-1423263645

Walter Liedtke, Our Friend and Distinguished Colleague
—Thomas P. Campbell
http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/now-at-the-met/2015/walter-liedtke

The young Walter Liedtke
—Garry Schwartz
http://www.garyschwartzarthistorian.nl/schwartzlist/?id=198

How I knew Walter
—Jonathan Janson

I first met Walter thanks to a Vermeer Newsletter in which among other things I had announced a trip to New York. Walter immediately emailed me suggesting we see each other at the MET. This surprised me in that experience had taught me that members of major museums are not inclined to extend personal invitations to those outside the institutional setting encountered via internet. When we got together in New York, Walter was exceptionally open, frank and questioning, demonstrating an interest in the functioning and goals of my Vermeer website as well. After this visit he was always quick to reply to any question I might have.

Some years later on the occasion of a Vermeer and Dutch painting exhibition in Rome which he had curated (together with Arthur Wheelock), Walter and Nancy broke away from duties and Roman pleasures for a casual dinner at my home which turned into a Vermeer marathon. Conversation ranged from questions of attribution, art history on the internet, the organization of Italian art museums and painting technique, which Walter was keenly interested in knowing that I am a painter. Despite his daunting knowledge of Dutch painting and his austere public demeanor, Walter never once assumed the role of an authority whose opinions on Vermeer and art with a capital A are gospel. On the contrary.

Towards the end of autumn, Walter and Nancy returned to Rome. We visited the exhibition merging ourselves with the Italian crowd. Walter examined the pictures which he knew by rote as if he had never seen them before. We debated if the Young Lady Seated at the Virginal showed the charisma of a real Vermeer. To my personal reserves Walter responded that a picture does not necessarily have to please to be a Vermeer. I bade goodbye to Walter and Nancy who were swept away in a series of appointments with museum personnel and influential collectors.

In the last years we continued to have email exchanges. In the last one I received he wrote he was at the moment unable to answer by question becasue “I’ve been up since 5:00 dealing with an urgent El Greco project.”

When a friend from Seattle emailed me the day after Walter’s tragic death, I was stunned that a man who found time for everything and for everybody suddenly had no more time, but still, I am sure, many people around him.

video testimonies:
Mr. Liedtke’s Metropolitan presentation, Connections/Living with Vermeer:
http://www.metmuseum.org/connections/living_with_vermeer#/Feature/

Youtube video Mr. Liedtke’s discussion of Rembrandt’s Aristotle and Bust:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2dCeTPDEKY

Surprise exhibition of Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter in Minneapolis

February 7th, 2015
inblue

MASTERPIECE IN FOCUS: JOHANNES VERMEER
January 16 – May 3, 2015
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Cargill Gallery)
Minneapolis, Minn.
price: free of charge
http://new.artsmia.org/masterpiece-in-focus/

article:
“On Vermeer’s Woman Reading a Letter: A Q&A with MIA’s Patrick Noon”
by Pamela Espeland
http://www.minnpost.com/artscape/2015/01/vermeers-woman-reading-letter-qa-mias-patrick-noon

lecture:
Lawrence Weschler | “Posers: Marvel, Majesty and Sovereignty among the Habsburgs and in Vermeer”
Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm

http://new.artsmia.org/event/lawrence-weschler-%C7%80-posers-marvel-majesty-and-sovereignty-among-the-habsburgs-and-in-vermeer/

With one of the world’s finest Vermeer paintings presently residing at the MIA alongside a magnificent exhibition of Habsburg splendors, Lawrence Weschler will unpack a posit about posing and the posed. Kings, queens, noblemen, and noblewomen are continually striking a pose, but who exactly is posing whom (and what?) when a painter attempts to capture that stance? And what was Vermeer up to when he set about capturing something altogether new and different in his portraits? In other words, what does it mean to be sovereign—sovereign over what, in whose eyes, and to what end?

Lawrence Weschler is director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and author of such books as Vermeer in Bosnia and Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder.

$10; $5 MIA members; free for Paintings Affinity Group members. To register, call (612) 870-6323 or reserve online.

Two Vermeers to be shown in Boston

February 7th, 2015
lady

CLASS DISTINCTIONS: DUTCH PAINTING IN THE AGE OF REMBRANDT AND VERMEER
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Ann and Graham Gund Gallery)
11 Oct. 2015 – 18 Jan., 2016
exhibition curators – Ronni Baer and William and Ann Elfers

from the museum website:
Organized by the MFA, this groundbreaking exhibition proposes a new approach to the understanding of 17th-century Dutch painting. Included are 75 carefully selected and beautifully preserved portraits, genre scenes, landscapes and seascapes borrowed from European and American public and private collections—including masterpieces never before seen in the US. The show will reflect, for the first time, the ways in which art signals the socioeconomic groups of the new Dutch Republic, from the Princes of Orange to the most indigent of citizens. Class distinctions had meaning and were expressed in the type of work depicted (or the lack thereof), the costumes, a figure’s comportment and behavior, or his physical environment. Arranged according to 17th-century ideas about social stratification, paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu, will be divided into three classes—upper, middle and lower—and further sub-divided into eight categories. A final section will explore the places where the classes in Dutch society met one another. Additionally, 45 works of decorative arts—objects used by each class but diverging in material and decoration (for example, salt cellars, candlesticks, mustard pots, linens)—will be installed in three table settings to highlight material differences among the classes.

On exhibition will be two splendid Vermeer paintings, A Lady Writing and The Astronomer.

The accompanying publication features essays by a team of distinguished Dutch scholars and exhibition curator Ronni Baer, the MFA’s William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of Paintings.

New Vermeer monograph

February 7th, 2015
franits

VERMEER (ARTS AND IDEAS)
by Wayne Franits
March 23, 2015
http://it.phaidon.com/store/art/vermeer-9780714868790/

In this new monograph, the latest in Phaidon’s Art and Ideas series, Wayne Franits examines the work of Vermeer within the framework of his times, one of the most intellectually creative periods in this history of art. Written in a lively and accessible style, and incorporating the latest scholarship on the artist, Franits provides fresh insights into many of Vermeer’s most famous works, uncovering the creative process behind them and their wealth of meanings. All paintings by Vermeer are illustrated.

about the author:
Wayne Franits, a specialist in seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art, is Professor of Art History at Syracuse University, New York. His numerous publications have explored a variety of topics within the field, ranging from genre painting and portraiture to the work of the Dutch followers of Caravaggio.

Vermeer’s Astronomer travels to Japan

February 7th, 2015
gio

LOUVRE MUSEUM: GENRE PAINTING – SCENES FROM DAILY LIFE
February 21 – June 1, 2015
The National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan
http://www.nact.jp/english/exhibitions/2015/louvre2015/index.html

from the museum website:
Genre painting refers to works that deal with the subject of everyday life. This exhibition, made up of 83 works that were carefully selected from the Musée du Louvre’s massive collection, traces the development of genre painting across four centuries, from the Renaissance to the mid-19th century.

In addition to Vermeer’s The Astronomer, which will be shown in Japan for the first time, the exhibition presents works by prominent painters from every era and region including Tiziano, Rembrandt, Murillo, Watteau, Chardin, and Millet, allowing viewers to enjoy the diverse charms of genre painting.

Vermeer-related article

January 31st, 2015

“Most rare workmen”: Optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft”
Huib J. Zuidervaart and Marlise Rijks
The British Journal for the History of Science, pp. 1 – 33, (March 2014)

online article can be accessed at:
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9202672&fileId
=S0007087414000181

abstract:
A special interest in optics among various seventeenth-century painters living in the Dutch city of Delft has intrigued historians, including art historians, for a long time. Equally, the impressive career of the Delft microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek has been studied by many historians of science. However, it has never been investigated who, at that time, had access to the mathematical and optical knowledge necessary for the impressive achievements of these Delft practitioners. We have tried to gain insight into Delft as a ‘node’ of optical knowledge by following the careers of three minor local figures in early seventeenth-century Delft. We argue that through their work, products, discussions in the vernacular and exchange of skills, rather than via learned publications, these practitioners constituted a foundation on which the later scientific and artistic achievements of other Delft citizens were built. Our Delft case demonstrates that these practitioners were not simple and isolated craftsmen; rather they were crucial components in a network of scholars, savants, painters and rich virtuosi. Decades before Vermeer made his masterworks, or Van Leeuwenhoek started his famous microscopic investigations, the intellectual atmosphere and artisanal knowledge in this city centered on optical topics.

Especially of interest is the authors’ tie between three optical practitioners who lived in Delft simultaneously with Vermeer. One of them, Jacob Spoors, was in 1674 the notary of Vermeer and his mother-in-law Maria Thins. Another was an acquaintance of Spoors, the military engineer Johan van der Wyck, who made an optical device in Delft in 1654, most likely a camera obscura. A report about the demonstration in nearby The Hague has been preserved. Van der Wyck also made telescopes and microscopes and an apparatus that probably was a kind of perspective box. As a telescope maker he was preceded by Evert Harmansz Steenwyck, brother-in- law of the Leiden painter David Bailly and father of two Delft still-life painters: Harman and Pieter Steenwyck. The latter was familiar with Vermeer’s father Reynier Jansz Vermeer, at a time when the young Vermeer was still living with his parents. According to the authors, this is the first real archival evidence that such a device existed in Delft during Vermeer’s life.

Vermeer-related publication

January 31st, 2015
beholder

The Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing
Mar 16, 2015
by Laura J. Snyder
http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?id=4294985240

from the publisher’s website:
In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns, and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing. With charm and narrative flair Snyder brings Vermeer and Van Leeuwenhoek—and the men and women around them—vividly to life. The story of these two geniuses and the transformation they engendered shows us why we see the world—and our place within it—as we do today.

reviews:
“Laura Snyder is both a masterly scholar and a powerful storyteller. In Eye of the Beholder, she transports us to the wonder-age of seventeenth-century Holland, as new discoveries in optics were shaping the two great geniuses of Delft—Vermeer and van Leeuwenhoek—and changing the course of art and science forever. A fabulous book.”
— Oliver Sacks

Eye of the Beholder is a thoughtful elaboration of the modern notion of seeing. Laura J. Snyder delves into the seventeenth century fascination with the tools of art and science, and shows how they came together to help us make sense of what is right in front of our eyes.”
— Russell Shorto, author of Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City

Vermeer-related film

January 31st, 2015
onscreen

Girl with a Pearl earring and other Treasures from the Mauritshuis
produced by Exhibition on Screen
in cinemas from 13 January
http://www.exhibitiononscreen.com/girl-with-a-pearl-earring

from Exhibition on Screen’ website:
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is one of the most enduring paintings in the history of art. Even today, its recent world tour garnered huge queues lining up for the briefest glimpse of its majestic beauty – In Japan 1.2 million people saw the exhibition. Yet the painting itself is surrounded in mystery. This beautifully filmed new documentary seeks to investigate the many unanswered questions associated with this extraordinary piece. Who was this girl? Why and how was it painted? Why is it so revered?

After its world tour, the Girl with a Pearl Earring returned to the much-loved Mauritshuis in The Hague, Netherlands, which has just completed extensive renovations. Enjoying unparalleled exclusive access to this historical exhibition, the film takes the audience on a journey as it seeks to answer many of the questions surrounding this enigmatic painting and its mysterious creator, Vermeer. Using the recently completed and highly complex makeover of the museum as its starting point, the film goes on a behind the scenes detective journey to seek out the answers that lie within the other masterpieces housed in the collection.

Vermeer-inspired poetry

January 31st, 2015
white2

Vermeer in Hell
by Michael White
2013
http://www.perseabooks.com/detail.php?bookID=114

from publisher’s website:
Through the paintings of Vermeer, Michael White explores new landscapes and transforms familiar ones in this extraordinary new collection of poems. This captivating masterwork transports us across eras and continents, from Confederate lynchings to the bombing of Dresden, through its lyrical inhabitations of some of Vermeer’s most revered paintings, each one magically described and renewed. More than mere ekphrasis, Michael White explores the transformative possibilities of great art in his fourth collection.

reviews:
“Vermeer in Hell is Michael White’s museum of ghosts and shades, of narratives woven masterfully out of the personal and historical alike—out of the lived, the envisioned, the loved, and the terrible. Rarely have I felt the ekphrastic to be as dramatic as in White’s tour through the portraits of Vermeer, with its history of fiery damages, wars and afflictions, but also its own depiction of ‘love’s face as it is.’ Out of Michael White’s vision, each poem achieves for us the delicacy and durability of Vermeer’s own art.”
—David Baker

“Nearly every one of Michael White’s new poems is the equivalent of a quiet stroll through a blazing fire, igniting the reader’s imagination. His insights are frightening and comforting at the same time, his craft allowing for the most surprising and thrilling of associations. Vermeer in Hell is a collection that belongs in the room with all of the traditions of our language’s poetry, but it brings something completely original to us, too. It is not an overstatement to call this poetry Genius.”
—Laura Kasischke

“In these elegant, powerful poems, Michael White pays homage to a great painter while engaging social realities that affect us all. They are brave, beautiful poems linked by authentic vision and a sensitive, educated ear.”
—Sam Hamill