Archive for the ‘Dutch Art’ Category

The Dulwich at the Frick

March 7th, 2010

Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery
March 9 – May 30, 2010
Frick Collection
1 East 70th Street, New York

For those particularly keen on Dutch painting, the London Dulwich Picture Gallery is lending the Frick a selection of some of the extraordinary works including two Dutch masterpieces which makes the Dulwich one of the major collections of 17th- and 18th century. This work has frequently been designated as a direct influence for Vermeer’s Lady Seated at the Virginals in both theme and composition.

Obviously, the other works included in the exhibition cannot be overlooked. They include Rembrandt van Rijn’s iconic  Girl at a Window, Van Dyck’s  Samson and Delilah, Canaletto’s Old Walton Bridge over the Thames, Watteau’s Les Plaisirs du Bal,  Murillo’s The Flower Girl, 1665–70; and Nicolas Poussin’s  The Nurture of Jupiter.

Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue written by Dr. Xavier F. Salomon that includes an essay on the origins of the collection at Dulwich as well as comprehensive entries on the nine works.

Vermeer lecture

February 25th, 2010

lecture by Paul Taylor
4:00 pm – Friday, 5 March 2010
Auditorium of the National Library complex
5 Prins Willem Alexanderhof
The Hague

The Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) aims to spotlight art historians who have conducted pioneering research on Dutch art. The first lecture, entitled Vermeer, Lairesse and Composition, will be given by Dr Paul Taylor, deputy curator of the Photographic Collection at the Warburg Institute in London and a specialist in Dutch seventeenth- and eighteenth-century art and art theory. The text of the Hofstede de Groot Lecture will be published as the first volume in a new series of publications (Waanders Publishers).

Paul Taylor has distinguished himself with his investigation of several key Dutch painting concepts, such as houding, gloe and lakheid, on which he has published various scholarly articles: “The Concept of ‘Houding’ in Dutch Art Theory” (1992); “The Glow in Late Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Dutch Paintings” (1998); “Flatness in Dutch Art: Theory and Practice”(2008). By thoroughly analysing these terms, searching for comparable terms in Italian and French writings, and linking them with pictorial aspects of Dutch seventeenth-century painting and drawing, he has singled out in a remarkably original fashion several pictorial qualities that are characteristic of Dutch visual art in the Golden Age.

The Hofstede de Groot Lecture is named after the art historian Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863-1930), whose extensive art-historical documentation forms the basis of the RKD collection.

The Hofstede de Groot Lecture will be followed by a reception.

date: Friday, 5 March 2010
: 4:00 pm (you are welcome as of 3:30pm: tea and coffee will be served)
:    free of charge
location:  Auditorium of the National Library complex, 5 Prins Willem Alexanderhof, The Hague
official language:    English
registration (mandatory)

Art of Painting exhibition catalogue available online

February 1st, 2010

Although I have not yet had the chance to see it, the Kunsthistorisches Museum catalogue of the Art of Painting exhibition is currently on sale at the museum online shop. Below is the URL and a little more information.

Vermeer: Die Malkunst

exhibition catalog 2010, 259 pg., numerous illustr.,
paperback in German
+ 73 S. English Translations of the Essays
Order number: 24770
24,8 x 28cm

price: EUR 29,90

bookshop link: <>

The museum also proposes a number of Vermeer Art of Painting spinoffs like scarfs, shoulder bags, coffee cups, jigsaw puzzles and magnets as well as the more conventional postcards and reproductions.

Salvador Dali & Vermeer’s Lacemaker

January 2nd, 2010

One of Dalí goals was to “rescue” modern painting.  His figurative mode and obsessive extolling of the Old Masters not only incited fellow Surrealists against him in the 1930s, but also later situated him in a diametric opposition to the avant-garde’s penchant towards abstraction.

Throughout art history, artists had incessantly attempted to grasp form and to reduce it to elementary geometrical volumes. Leonardo always tended to produce eggs Ingres preferred spheres, and Cézanne cubes and cylinders. Dalí claimed that all curved surfaces of the human body have the same geometric spot in common, the one found in this cone with the rounded tip curved toward heaven or toward the earth the rhinoceros horn. After this initial discovery, Dalí surveyed his own images and realized that all of them could be deconstructed to rhinoceros horns.

Dalí also discovered what he termed “latent rhinocerisation” in the works of the Great Masters.  The Lacemaker is a rhinoceros horn (or an assemblage of horns), and the rhinoceros’ actual horn is, in fact, a Lacemaker. The painting triumphs over the living rhinoceros because it is entirely comprised of these animated, spiritualized horns, whereas the rhinoceros wields only the single diminutive horn/Lacemaker on its nose.”

Dalí explained, “Up till now, The Lacemaker has always been considered a very peaceful, very calm painting, but for me, it is possessed by the most violent aesthetic power, to which only the recently discovered antiproton can be compared.”

A copy of  The Lacemaker had hung on the wall of his father’s study and had obsessed Dalí for a number of years. In 1955, he asked permission to enter the Louvre with his paints and canvas to execute a copy of Vermeer’s miniscule masterpiecer.

Rembrandt finds home in Las Vegas

January 1st, 2010

It is said that the mystery telephone bidder who paid a record $33m (£20m) for a Rembrandt at Christie’s in London is Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas casino owner.

Vermeer enthusiasts will remember that Wynn has distinguished himself through the years as a powerful art collector and acquired the tiny Young Woman Seated at a Virginal. It has been reported that Wynn later sold it (for unknown reasons) to a New York art collector for the same price he initially paid.

The Rembrandt in question is a Portrait of a Man, Half-Length, with His Arms Akimbo, painted in 1658. One New York dealer  balked at the purchase due to lack of technical clarity  in the face. “It was definitely a gamble,” he said. Let’s remember that gambling is Wynn’s specialty.

Although Wynn remains somewhat reticent about discussing his art dealings his high public profile is assured by his enormously successful casinos and resorts in the Las Vegas including the Golden Nugget, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio and Encore where  much of which hangs. His collection includes works by Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Manet, Matisse, Turner and Picasso.

Am I looking too hard?

December 21st, 2009

A hitherto unrecorded and unpublished painting by Cesar van Everdingen,  A Girl Holding a Balance of Plums, was recently sold at Sotheby’s for a tidy sum. has it that the work was “subject of considerable bidding battle this evening. It saw interest from six potential buyers who competed strongly and whose determined bids took the price to 1,161,250 GBP, which was 16 times the pre-sale estimate of 50,000-70,000 GBP.” Luckily, the painting can be inspected with the zoom feature on Sotheby’s website accompanied by valuable background information.

To modern sensibility, bred on the precept that only the blunt and the rough can possibly signal sincerity, Cesar Van Everdingen’s elegant paint handling and sometimes aloof subject matter does not always excite non-specialists. And yet, his superlative technique and enviable sense of pictorial synthesis was held in high esteem in Vermeer’s time, higher than Vermeer’s. But what does Van Everdingen have to do with Vermeer?

Critics have long pointed to Van Everdingen’s hand for the large-scale, idiosyncratic Cupid that appears in three works by Vermeer, its boldest appearance being in the Lady Standing at the Virginal (it also starred in the  Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window but was later painted out by artist himself). However, Vermeer’s interest in Van Everdingen may have gone beyond citing his Cupid as a convenient iconographical prop. Walter Liedtke, in his recent complete catalogue of Vermeer, points out a stylistic kinship between the extraordinarily economical treatment of the head of the mistress in the Frick and Van Everdingen’s classicist  Still-Life with a Bust of Venus in the Mauritshuis.

To be sure, Van Everdingen’s  A Girl Holding a Balance of Plums is a big brash  picture. At first glance it is about as unVermeer-like as you can get. Yet her outrageous hat which projects a suggestive shadow just over her eyes and her seductively parted lips may not be lost on those who know Vermeer’s  Girl with a Flute.  Dutch painters produced countless numbers of such works who, like everyone in the Netherlands, were intoxicated by exotic whares that swelled Dutch ports  (Van Everdingen’s hat is from Brazil where Vermeer’s is obviously of Oriental extraction). If one wishes to push the case beyond the literal, the challenging rendering of the hat’s geometrical design could have stirred Vermeer attention, fascinated by the curious perspective of the decorative stripes on his own oriental hat.

Since art-history detective work is neither one of my talents nor ambitions, I gladly  leave further comparison to those more qualified.

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.

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.