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Numerous loans from European and American museums and private collections and historical documents from Dutch archives provide a springboard for discovering Vermeer’s masterpiece.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

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