Archive for November, 2009

A new location for Vermeer’s Girl with a Glass of Wine

November 27th, 2009

Masterpieces of the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum from antiquity to the contemporary

12 July 2009 – 31 December 2012

Due to the complete renovation of the  Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in the coming years, the most important works will be on view in the nearby Knight’s Hall of Burg Dankwarderod, including Vermeer’s Girl with a Glass of Wine. The exhibition architecture is designed to make an overview over the different art historical eras, from antiquity to contemporary art possible.

see the museum website notice (in Germans only):

Vermeer under reconstruction

November 26th, 2009

My good friend Adelheid  kindly keeps me up-to-date on what is going on in Northern Europe. It seems that heavy-weight museums have recently developed a taste for physically reconstructing Vermeer’s paintings in order to draw museum-goers closer to his masterpieces (see the reconstruction of Vermeer’s Art of Painting entry below). As a painter, I whole-heartedly approve this kind of display since those who look at pictures rarely understand the complexeties making a meaningful, painted compositions from real life situation.

Here’s the news.

On 24th November, the so-called “experiment-room,” a life-size, 1:1 reconstruction of the scene in Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, was presented to the public at the Labortheater of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. Academy students and teachers developed and realized the exact replica which will later become the central part of the extensive educational program for the upcoming The Early Vermeer exhibition in its Dresden venue.

By stepping into the reconstructed room, visitors will be able to grasp more concretely Vermeer’s painting process, the manner in which employed perspective, light and shadow, whether he used a camera obscura, and above all, the his unsurpassed sense of composition.

Not only were the objects now visible in the painting faithfully replicated, but those which Vermeer had later overpainted such as a crystal goblet and a large painting of a Cupid. Thus, with a bit of imagination one can directly experience Vermeer’s “art of omitting” which transformed a somewhat theatrical scene into a more intimate one focused on the silent act reading of a letter a love letter.

The girl’s smart yellow jacket (none have survived) was recreated according to scientific research as a diploma project by students of  theatrical costume design department. On special occasions a young female student will model as the reading-girl in the scene. Otherwise life-size figure  made specifically by the students will stand in for the live model.

for an image and a short video (German text) see:

There she goes again

November 24th, 2009

Like it or not, Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is in for another lengthy hike. This time, she’s back to Japan.

On 27 October, 2009, the directors of the Mauritshuis and media company Asahi Shimbun have agreed to organize a traveling exhibition of major works of art from the Mauritshuis in 2012. It is anticipated that over forty works from The Hague will be exhibited in Tokyo and subsequently in Kobe. Amongst the works included are well-known paintings, such as the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer and the late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt.

The museum will tour a selection of its rich collection during the renovation of the historic building known as the Mauritshuis. This extensive renovation requires the closure of the museum for the public. The View of Delft will remain at the Mauritshuis.

The Vienna Art of Painting exhibition detail

November 23rd, 2009

Regarding the upcoming Art of Painting special exhibition in Vienna (25 January – 25 April 2010), I have been kindly informed that the organisers have created a 1:1  3D reconstruction of Vermeer’s masterpiece following the drawings of the London architect and Vermeer/camera obscura expert, Philip Steadman.  A large camera obscura was subsequently employed to obtain  images. Some photos of the camera obscura images  will be included in the exhibition.

Most any Vermeer enthusiast will remember Steadman’s carefully-researched and much-discussed book (Vermeer’s Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces) on Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura (a sort of 17th-century precursor of the modern photographic camera). The dust still has not completely settled  dividing Vermeer notables into two camps. Since The Art of Painting is said by many to present some of the peculiar visual qualities which are characteristic of the image produced by the camera obscura, this part of the exhibition may be useful to those who those who seek visual evidence in regards to the issue.

I have always enjoyed, but more importantly,  learned, something more from small-scale exhibitions with a clear focus more than blockbuster overviews which tend to overwhelm someone like myself who can at best absorb one painting at at time (perhaps a professional deformation stemming from the habit of painting only one painting at a time) .  See,  for example,  the excellent  Milkmaid exhibit currently at the MET.

The Art of Painting exhibit seems to be shaping  up nicely. All I need now is some some cash that falls off a tree for a round-trip ticket and lodging.

Learning to paint

November 22nd, 2009

The Young Vermeer

The Hague, Mauritshuis
May 12 – Aug 22, 2010

Dresden, Old Masters Picture Gallery
Sept 3– Dec 28, 2010

Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland
end of 2010 – Feb. 2011

Although Vermeer’s art has been consecrated by numerous special exhibitions for decades, until now, no single exhibition has focused on the myriad questions of painter’s artistic formation and early works. Hence, The Young Vermeer, which will travel from The Hague to Edinburgh and lastly to Dresden, will be the first chance to view Vermeer’s formative early works in close proximity and shall no doubt will be a milestone in Vermeer studies. All three venues feature Vermeer’s Diana and her Companions, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary and The Procuress. These three works have been completely restored so they can be appreciated in all their youthful intensity. The Dresden venue will also comprise their Girl  Reading a Letter by an Open Window.

An exhibition catalogue will provide visitors with in-depth investigation to this subject by distinguished experts of Dutch art.

The Dresden venue of the exhibition seems to be particularly rich. An ambitious educational project, based on recent investigations of the Dresden Vermeer Girl  Reading a Letter by an Open Window will include a full-scale, scientifically elaborated reconstruction of the room represented in this early masterpiece. The reconstruction will to be presented to the public next week. A website, currently under construction but already rather promising, will further explore Vermeer’s masterpiece.

Moreover, the educational project includes a 20-minute film which focused on the early Vermeer paintings and the Dresden paintings (The Procuress and Girl  Reading a Letter by an Open Window).  Numerous lectures during are planned as well as an anthology, comprehending short literary texts by different authors dealing with the Girl  Reading a Letter by an Open Window.

Due to its uniqueness, the Young Vermeer exhibition has already begun to stir international attention assuring widespread interest. As details come available, they will be reported on the Flying Fox.

Is it or isn’t it?

November 15th, 2009

Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference
December 8, 2009–February 28, 2010


from the Getty website:
Coming in December, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles presents an unprecedented exploration of the drawings of Rembrandt van Rijn and his students. Rembrandt was a popular teacher with dozens of pupils, and he taught all of them to draw in his style. But which of the thousands of drawings created in his studio are by Rembrandt himself—and how do we tell the difference?

This innovative exhibition untangles the mystery, inviting visitors to help solve the puzzle by looking closely to distinguish artists’ styles for themselves. Distilling over 30 years of scholarly research, this major international loan exhibition presents a singular opportunity to explore the differences between Rembrandt’s drawings and those of more than 14 pupils and followers. In carefully selected pairings of celebrated drawings by Rembrandt and his pupils, the exhibition outlines these artistic differences and sheds light on the art of drawing in Rembrandt’s circle and the vibrant creative life within the master’s studio.

Special Vienna exhibition: The Art of Painting

November 12th, 2009

Vermeer : The Art of Painting
25 January – 25 April 2010
Kunsthistorisches Museum
Maria Theresien-Platz, Vienna


The Art of Painting has a unique place in Vermeer’s oeuvre. Although it was very likely not executed as a commission, it never left the artist’s studio. Even after Vermeer’s death, which left his family with enormous financial problems, his widow Catharina tried to prevent a sale of this precious painting. Most likely, it was made as a showcase piece to be presented to connoisseurs and potential customers. The exhibition investigates a number of facets of this most complex of Vermeer’s compositions.

Besides extensive technological studies regarding the work’s state of conservation,  several central subjects are faced including the complex iconography  supported by period documentation. Some of the props in the picture will be on display; a period chandelier, tapestry, wallmap as well as a precise reconstruction of a slashed doublet worn by the painter.

Other questions are investigated as well. Does the painting represent Vermeer’s real studio? What does the painting reveal about Vermeer’s working methods? Which pigments did painter utilized? How was the composition developed? Did the painter make use of optical devices?

Numerous loans from European and American museums and private collections and historical documents from Dutch archives provide a springboard for discovering Vermeer’s masterpiece.

In addition the Kunsthistorisches Museum displays paintings, sculptures and details of films by contemporary artists (George Deem, Maria Lassnig, Peter Greenaway etc.) whose creation were inspired by Vermeer’s Art of Painting.