Posts Tagged ‘Adriaan E. Waiboer’

Is Vermeer overrated? Part 2

May 3rd, 2013

See part 3 and part 1.

Adriaan E. Waiboer, curator at the National Gallery of Ireland and leading expert in Dutch painting, recently addressed Vermeer’s superstar status in a perceptive study* of the historical fames of Vermeer and Gabriel Metsu. Metsu was one of the most accomplished painters of the time and was enthusiastically collected by his contemporaries: Vermeer less so. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Metsu not only maintained but, perhaps, improved his standing as one of the most celebrated painters of the Dutch Golden Age.  Metsu’s works were snatched up for noble collections throughout Europe. Vermeer’s name, instead, had all but vaporized. In 1783 Louis XVI of France spent a fortune, 18,051 francs, on a Metsu after he had declined two Vermeers, the Astronomer and the Geographer. Sixty years later, the writer John Smith declared “the superiority of Metsu over every artist in the Dutch school” and dubbed Vermeer as one of Metsu’s “imitators.” In order to increase market value, some Vermeers were attributed to painters including Metsu himself.  This state of affairs was completely reversed by the end of the 19th century when Vermeer was “rediscovered”  and his reputation and monetary value soared. The Dutch painters Metsu, Frans van Mieris and Gerrit Dou, who had commanded unlimited approval for centuries, were unceremoniously relegated to lower rungs of the Dutch art ladder almost to the embarrassment the triumphant image of Dutch art established by the “moderns” Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn and Vermeer.

Gabriel Metsu catalogue

Although recognizing the values of Vermeer’s art, Waiboer posits that the reevaluation of the Delft master has been skewed by a modernist penchant for “streamlined and stylized aesthetic, as evidenced by contemporary design and architecture,” and that this fact has unjustly penalized Metsu. Metsu, then, has been largely viewed through a “lens colored by their admiration for Vermeer,” thereby inhibiting the “appreciation of the true qualities of his [Metsu’s] work.” While not officiating an outright revision, the savvy art historian nonetheless declares that the game is far from over. “As artist’s critical fortunes have always fluctuated and will do so in the future, our views on Metsu and Vermeer will undoubtedly change. The question is in what way? Will Vermeer’s fame continue to grow in the next centuries, or will Metsu’s eventually superseding that of his contemporary again?”

There can be no doubt that modernist values, which confer a premium to pictorial values while penalizing explicit narrative and moralistic finger-wagging,  have greatly benefitted the reevaluation of the supreme Dutch triumvirate. What remains to be seen, however, is if it will be Metsu or Gerrit ter Borch to challenge Vermeer’s position. For while the compositional originality, supreme technique and level of psychological introspection that Ter Borch gave to his figure pieces may be reasonably weighed against Vermeer’s talents, the chameleonic nature of Metsu, who openly and with amazing ability cloned the work of his cutting edge contemporaries, makes it difficult to understand just which version of Gabriel Metsu—Mestu-Dou, Metsu-Ter Borch, Metsu-Van Mieris or Metsu-Vermeer—will rival Vermeer-Vermeer.

By the way, Waiboer has recently published a catalogue raisonne of Metsu. Although I have not yet had the fortune to read it, I imagine will be of great help in redefining the role of this valuable and quintessential Dutch painter.

*Adriaan E. Waiboer, “‘Why buy a Vermeer when a Metsu is available?’ The Relationship between Two Dutch Genre Painters”, Gabriel Mestu, New Haven and London, 2010, pp. 29-51.

Conference: The young Vermeer in context

February 23rd, 2011

The Young Vermeer in Context
5 March 2011, 2pm – 6:30pm
National Gallery of Scotland
The Mound
Edinburgh EH2 2EL
United Kingdom

information form the museum:

The young Vermeer presents a unique opportunity to compare directly the three earliest paintings by Johannes Vermeer. On occasion of this exhibition the National Gallery of Scotland is staging a study afternoon, bringing together a distinguished group of international experts. Focussing on Vermeer’s early career the talks will revisit his start as a history painter and shift to genre painting, his artistic and social environment, and the rediscovery of  “Young Vermeer” in the 19th century. The podium will offer the opportunity to get involved and discuss these important paintings with the experts and to discover more about the development of one of the world’s most celebrated artists.

speakers:

– Dr. Albert Blankert, Independent Scholar, The Hague
– Edwin Buijsen, Head of Collections, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
– Dr. Adriaan E. Waiboer, Curator of Northern European Art, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

podium:
– Professor Christopher Brown, Director, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
– Professor Gregor J. M. Weber, Head of the Department of Fine Arts, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

moderation:

– Dr Tico Seifert Senior Curator of Northern
European Art, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

1.30 – 2pm, registration (HLT)
2 – 5pm,  study afternoon (HLT)
5 – 6.30pm, Wine reception and private view (NG)

Tickets: £12 (£10 concessions) are available from
the Information Desk at the National Gallery Complex,
or by calling 0131 624 6560, Monday

see museum flyer:
http://www.codart.nl/images/02526_NGS_
TheYoungVermeerInContext%20A5%20Flyer%28Final%29v4.pdf

Gabriel Metsu overview in Dublin

March 7th, 2010

Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667)
4 September – 5 December, 2010

National Gallery of Ireland , Dublin
Curator: Dr. Adriaan E. Waiboer

from the museum website:

This exhibition will pay homage to the Dutch seventeenth-century artist, Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667) and his exquisite scenes of daily life, which rank among the finest of the Dutch Golden Age. It will also highlight some of Metsu’s lesser known achievements in the fields of history painting, portraiture and still life. Metsu started his career in Leiden, where he painted biblical scenes on a large format. After his move to Amsterdam in the middle of the 1650s, he changed his specialisation to intimate scenes of daily life. As Metsu’s style became more meticulous in the 1660s, he focused increasingly on representing the pastimes of the upper class. He died at the age of thirty-seven, having painted a varied oeuvre of more than 130 paintings. Few of his colleagues were as versatile as Metsu and his handling of the brush was almost unrivalled. Moreover, his paintings display a unique approach to daily activities, marked by a psychological interest in the people he portrayed. An accompanying catalogue will be published to coincide with the exhibition.

other venues:

Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (16 December 2010 – 20 March 2011)

Washington, DC, National Gallery of Art (17 April – 24 July 2011)