Vermeer’s Music Lesson on public display

August 22nd, 2010

Vermeer’s Music Lesson, frequently inaccessible to the general public, will hang in Buckingham Palace, in the State Apartments picture
gallery for the months of August and September, 2010.

2 Responses to “Vermeer’s Music Lesson on public display”

  1. Christine McCann

    Hi Jonathan

    Thanks for continuing to update us all – it’s very much appreciated.

    If it’s any help I can report that the 5 in the Met and the 3 in the Frick are still alive and well as of 12 days ago. Remarkably, they haven’t changed at all on 3rd viewing and I found Young Woman with a Water Pitcher’s white cap as captivating as ever.

    When visiting a Vermeer, I like to sit a while near it and lap it up a little in my own litte bubble of Vermeer-snobbery. I enjoy watching everyone else observing and it’s strange how people seem to be drawn to them in a room full of paintings. Even those without Audio Guides guiding them. But not Allegory of Faith, which despite it’s size was completely by-passed by so many. Perhaps because it looks so different to a casual observer. To me it seems out of character and it’s not one that floats my boat. When I look at it I want to say to Mr V ‘What on earth?’. I appreciate it may have been a commision. However I do find myself straining to peer at the glass orb in case there is a mere hint of the artist.

    I had a hot-flush-of-panic incident in the Frick however. I went (first) on 6th and was told at the ticket desk that the West Gallery was closed that day.

    “Oh but there’s a Vermeer in there”. I must admit there was a bit of a whine in my voice.
    “No, the Vermeer’s are in the Hall”
    ‘They’ve moved M&M’ I stupidly thought and reasoned that perhaps on a 3rd visit I could do without all the other lovely stuff in that room. And off I trotted directly to the Hall.

    Mistress and Maid was not there. Of course it wasn’t. As if they’d move such a thing so casually and squeeze it in. I could spy it behind two screens and two guards still in the West Gallery. So I went straight back to the desk and explained to them (omitting the fact that it was my 3rd visit) that I’d come alllll the way from Europe specifically to see the Vermeers (omitting all the touristy things we had planned over a 10 day vacation on the ESB) and myself and my long-suffering wouldn’t have paid to go in otherwise.

    “Well you can still see two of them. And there’s plenty more to see”

    Clearly out of her mind and shouldn’t be working in such a hallowed place. But, I was polite and stayed relatively calm and thank-goodness was allowed in on the same ticket the next day*

    A couple of the Rembrants are off on their travels but otherwise I enjoyed my 3rd viewing

    Thanks again – for indulging a rambling amateur obsessive

    *Anyone reading this – Don’t try this – it was authorised, I was issued a hand-written note and on my 2nd attempt was lightly interrogated by two staff as if my real intention was to run amock with a spray-can before being allowed in. Despite my flippancy – I do appreciate their accomodation.

  2. Jonathan Janson

    Christine, Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts and emotions. As you have seen, Vermeer going is fraught with its own brand of difficulties. Too many times in the past I had taken long trip to find some painting of Vermeer on loan or in restoration. That’s why I always try to communicate ahead of time and have made the Vermeer tracker for others hoping to limit some of the despair. I suppose you were lucky and I was too once when I found the Girl with a Flute and the Girl with a Red Hat both missing form their usually places. Luckily, incredibly so, I ran into a friend of a friend who just happened to work in the NGA and who kindly offered me a brief glimpse of the two in restoration. I was able to examine each painting and very close quarters, without glass and in full light. I learned much, like how much Vermeer actually toiled on his paintings. Best, Jonathan

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