New National Gallery website re-make

June 28th, 2009

After years of stagnation, the London National Gallery has updated its internet presence.

For Vermeer enthusiasts, the re-do offers an improved zoom feature of both the Lady Seated at the Virginals and the Lady Standing at the Virginals, two late works which can be easily overlooked by newcomers.

Other than the restrained graphic re-make, someone at the National Gallery put his hand on his heart and eliminated the hideous watermarks which once “graced” these previous zoom features. If you are partial to detail (like myself) or a painter (like myself), these images provide both food for the eye and mind.

Although politics evidently constrain the gallery staff to aim their sites on the “lower” tier of museum goers (“Plan your visit here,” “Take part as a family,” “Subscribe to out Podcast link” links strategically infest the site), the textual information sorely disappoints. Do not the two ladies merit more than five bland paragraphs? Frankly, my 10-year web experience has taught me to never underestimate the inquisitiveness or intellect of the those who wish to warm up to the masterpieces for the first time. Both of these unobtrusive Vermeers have some pretty compelling stories to tell if one willing to scratch under the surface a bit.

2 Responses to “New National Gallery website re-make”

  1. R. Houston Sneed

    Thanks for posting a reminder of the National Gallery site re-design. It is a nice re-design overall but I have to agree with you they do fall a little short in the area of textual content. If they don’t want to include further information themselves perhaps they could include links to other resources. I do have one quick question about some information on the Johannes Vermeer bio page:
    In the third paragraph it states “Vermeer was a Catholic and married in 1653.” Tell me if I’m incorrect but wasn’t Vermeer Protestant before he got married? It makes it sound like he was Catholic all his life. Or am I just splitting hairs here? I tend to do that some times.

  2. Jonathan Janson

    Yes, Vermeer was born Protestant and he converted to Catholicism upon his marriage, albeit supported by strong, but nonetheless circumstantial evidence. Is that a slip on the part of the National Gallery? I imagine so.

    But still, to Vermeer scholarship it is quite important if he was born or converted to Catholicism so you are not really guilty of splitting hairs.

    If you are interested on the subject of Vermeer’s religious affiliations, I did a little something on it here…

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