Janene Pieters, “Mystery of world-famous Vermeer setting finally solved”
Nov. 19, 2015
The century-old mystery of the exact location of Johannes Vermeer’s painting Little Street, has finally been solved. The setting for the world-famous painting is on Vlamingstraat in Delft, where houses 40-42 now stand.
This extraordinary revelation was made by Dr. Frans Grijzenhout, professor of Art History at the University of Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum announced on Thursday.
Grijzenhout searched 17th-century records in the Delft archives and found the conclusive answer in The file of the deep waters within the city of Delft from 1667, also called the Register of the quayside fee. This register kept record of how much tax everyone who owned a house on a canal in Delft had to pay for the deepening of the canal and for maintenance of the wharf in front of his door. It contains detailed, accurate up to 15 cm, information on the breath of all the houses and ports on the Delft canals in Vermeer’s time.
The two houses that then stood on Vlamingstraat where numbers 40-42 are now located, completely correspond with The Little Street. No other houses from Vermeer’s time correspond so exactly.
The research also revealed that Vermeer’s aunt—the widow Ariaentgen Claes van der Minne, Vermeer’s father’s half-sister —lived in the house on the right side of the painting. Vermeer’s mother and sister lived on the same canal, diagonally across the street. According to the Rijksmuseum, it is therefore likely that Vermeer knew the house well and had personal memories linked to it.
“The answer to the question of where Vermeer’s Little Street is located, is of great significance and will have profound consequences, bot for the way we look at this one painting by Vermeer as well as for the image we have of Vermeer as an artist”, said Pieter Roelofs, curator of 17th-century paintings at the Rijksmuseum.
To celebrate theLittle Street’s address being found, the Rijksmuseum is dedicating an exhibition to the discovery. The exhibition will be in the Rijksmuseum between November 20th of this year and March 13th, 2016.
from the Rijksmuseum website:
The houses now on the site were built in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The only aspect that can still be recognized as it appears in The Little Street is the striking gate and passageway on the right. The investigation also revealed that the house on the right in The Little Street belonged to Vermeer’s widowed aunt, Ariaentgen Claes van der Minne, his father’s half-sister. She earned her living and provided for her five children by selling tripe, and the passageway beside the house was known as the Penspoort—Tripe Gate.
Google Art Project presentation:
A special exhibition about the newly found location of Vermeer’s Little Street will be held in two venues:
20 November 2015-13 March 2016
Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Delft
25 March-17 July 2016
Patrick van Mil, Director of Museum Prinsenhof Delft, says “This offers the opportunity to put Delft on the map as the Vermeer City. With new routes through the city, a special virtual reality App, Vermeer packages etc. We bring the Vermeer of Delft for the visitors to life. To achieve this we are looking for cooperation with various parties such as the Oude Kerk, the Vermeer Centre, TU Delft, Delft Marketing and business. Together we can develop an attractive program whereby Delft would again be dominated by Johannes Vermeer and ‘The Little Street’, Delft, Vermeer and Vermeer’s Delft!”