Vermeer quest

October 3rd, 2009
vermeertravel

Love takes form in strange ways.

One of them is looking at seemingly inconsequential paintings representing frivolous damsels in the corner of a room made by a Dutch man who lived briefly and died poor in a very different world some 350 years distant from our own. Traveling around the world to see them all is another.

Perhaps one of the most curious, but frequent, emails I receive as the author of Essential Vermeer website is from people who have made it one of their life-quests to see “all the Vermeers.” A few travel as couples, a few keep me informed of their progress.

Mike Buffington  recently wrote me about his “mission to see all the Vermeers.” He is at 30 now. A trip in April will put both he and his brother at 35. I admire Mike’s youthful dedication and understand his need to picture himself next each one he has seen.

When I saw my first Vermeer many years ago  it was very hard to leave.

5 Responses to “Vermeer quest”

  1. Debbie Dameron

    What a good idea to take your picture next to each one! My husband and I have only six more to go and they are all in Germany. (I even saw the stolen one from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum before it was stolen.) We just went to Italy for the second time this year so that will make it hard to get too Germany until maybe next summer. But it has become an important aspiration for us.

    Glad to hear that there are many of us out there trying to see them all.

  2. Kim McGinn

    It is a great idea to take your picture with each–many museums don’t allow pictures–like the Fripp in NYC. I just completed seeing 23 —I really did not think there were others out there who travel just to see Vermeers-would love to connect–to Debbie–did you see that all the German Vermeers will be touring in Dresden ( 2 others a short ride to Berlin) next fall (10)? I am planning to go–find me on facebook and we can chat there

  3. Christine McCann

    I too am on a ‘mission’ to see Vermeers. Although I had seen ‘Christ in the House…..’ in Edinburgh in 2003, it officially started in March 2005 when I was on a hen weekend in Amsterdam! I couldn’t bear another hour in an Irish bar so I happily took myself off to the Rijksmusem and I can honestly say that life was never quite the same again. Something changed inside. In a good way. It’s almost like I hold this wonderful secret inside. And I can relate to that feeling of not being able to leave. I had to tear myself away and kept returning to the same room. I’ve since been back a couple of times and when I do, it feels like I’m returning to an old friend. Sounds silly doesn’t it.

    When I last went to Amsterdam in summer ’09 I went to Delft for the day and galloped around like some grinning maniac. I can’t wait to go back.

    So I’ve seen 23, and some of those more than once. I feel a bit calmer about it all now and am taking my time to see the others. I wonder if I can persuade my long suffering partner to go to Dresden this year :)

  4. Jonathan Janson

    Christine, Thanks for sharing your impressions. I suppose you are really not alone in feeling such a profound link with Vermeer’s painting and even if was true there would be nothing silly about it. Although I have never seen the Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, the same thing has happened to me with other paintings. While the Girl with a Pearl Necklace was here for in Rome for a temporary exhibit, I had the privilege to see “her” a number of times. The last day was really difficult to break away. It seemed to me that for a brief moment, I could grasp what it could be like to be a woman, I assure you, something very difficult for a man to do.

    The day before I noticed a young man who came back to the picture repeatedly with a nervous pace. I plucked up my courage and asked him if something was wrong. He said he was worried he would miss the train but could not break himself away from the painting, which he did with a sigh.

  5. Jonathan Janson

    Ah Christine, Keep me informed as to your upcoming Vermeer impressions.

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