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:

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