Posts Tagged ‘Little Street’

Frans Grijzenhout proposes new location of Vermeer’s Little Street but Philip Steadman argues there is a better fit.

December 13th, 2015


Frans Grijzenhout has recently proposed that Vermeer’s The Little Street shows houses at 40 and 42 Vlamingstraat in Delft. His theory is the subject of a current exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Philip Steadman, author of Vermeer’s Camera: The Truth behind the Masterpiece, argues the case for an alternative location on the Voldersgracht. Steadman’s case is supported with contemporary maps, drawings and a 19th century photograph.

Click here to view Steadman’s illustrated article.

Exact location of Vermeer’s Little Street finally discovered?

November 19th, 2015


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:

Rijksmuseum presentation:

A special exhibition about the newly found location of Vermeer’s Little Street will be held in two venues:

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
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!”

Johannes Vermeer home again

April 13th, 2013

Cheered by thousands, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands reopened today her country’s national museum after a 10-year renovation. And after years of whizzing around the world, the four Rijksmuseum Vermeers have finally come home for a much needed rest. Actually, the Milkmaid and Little Street logged only one trip aboard each, but the Woman in Blue Reading a Letter made a last minute trip around the globe while the travel lof of the Love Letter is too long to list (if you are up to this kind of thing I keep track of all Vermeer exhibitions here). Sending Vermeer’s Woman in Blue to Japan funded a highly detailed catalogue of Dutch Golden Age paintings, a three-volume set on artists born between 1600 and 1630. Meanwhile, the spectacular online database featuring 280,000 objects, half with accompanying images, has been completed.

The renovation of the Rijksmuseum took twice as long as expected and costs rose much higher than planned. Among the glitches, designers had to grapple with asbestos and the obligation to incorporate an existing bike path into their design. Administrators hope to double the attendance from one million pre-restoration visitors per year, to two million.

Vermeer buildings virtually reconstructed

April 7th, 2013

Traux Studio has ingeniously reconstructed 3D models two historical Delft buildings: Mechelen, where Vermeer grew up, and the Old Men’s House, directly behind Mechelen which Vermeer presumably represented in his his early masterwork, The Little Street. Obviously, the model of the Old Mens House is based on Vermeer’s painting while the Mechelen was drawn from an engraving of c. 1720 by Leonard Schenk. Mechelen was one of the largest constructions on the Market Square. The reconstructed views can be viewed in hight-resolution and purchased online.

The Old Men’s House was torn down to make way for the new Delft St Luke Guild building during Vermeer’s lifetime. Mechelen was demolished in 1885 to make the way clear for fire-prevention equipment and no building stands in its place.  If you are into the finer points of the historical location of Vermeer’s Little Street, go to Philip Steadman’s online essay.

Rijksmuseum: Impressions of a Revamped Museum

March 30th, 2013

Drs Kees Kaldenbach, art historian, 29 March 29 2013

After a prolonged period of closing and restoration, nearly 10 years that felt like an eternity, the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum will be reopened on Saturday morning 13 April 2013 by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. That same afternoon the building will be open to all visitors. Exceptionally, even for important international art museums, in future it will be open to visitors all year-round, even on Christmas and New Years Day.

Drs Kees Kaldenbach at the Rijksmuseum opening

Fans are holding their breath. Sneak previews are possible only for the happy few. One week beforehand the Friends and Patrons of the Rijksmuseum will be allowed in (the latter paying a whopping 1000 euros annually). Obviously, the international press also gets full and privileged access to roam, say ooh and ah, and to take notes and some photographs.

Professional TV footage with heavy cameras will be finished by then – because of rules about electric fire and security measures involving microphone boom poles, extra professional minders and firemen have to be present. I was one of those lucky few allowed access to the unfinished museum on 28 March 2013 because the BBC was shooting a TV programme to be broadcast on Monday night, 15 April, in the BBC4 TV series “Openings”.

As I am knowledgeable about Dutch fine arts and Vermeer in particular, I was invited there on-camera to say something expressive and worthwhile about the experience of just being there – back in the main Rijksmuseum building – taking in the scenery for the first time in 10 years. The crew, with interviewer art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon also wanted to probe my feelings on seeing the four Vermeer pictures back in their final space in the Gallery of Honour or “Eregalerij” in the upper central axis of the Rijksmuseum. It boasts distinguished neighbours; Rembrandt’s Night Watch beckons visitors at the far end. A special role was also played by my daughter Suzanne, now aged 25, who has only faint memories of the museum as it was. In 2002 it was a maze of ill-lit corridors in which one could all too easily lose one’s way.

As you can see in these fairly poor photographs (click here to access photographs), the cubicles on either side of this Gallery of Honour are now painted grey, with plain wooden floors. Each cubicle has its own dividing wall. As there is no daylight, the lighting is electric here, with advanced LED lights (of the correct colour temperature), beaming from above.

What forms the real and unexpected WOW-effect is the dazzling set of patterns and colours in the front part of the dividing walls and the neo-gothic church-like upper arched structures. These patterns are especially abundant in the front grand hall with the bright leaded glass with stained glass panels inserted. The colours, murals and patterns all around in that hall, painstakingly slow and meticulously restored, form a dazzling riot. It reminds one of Roman Catholic church interiors from France and the Netherlands in the 1880s. (One can visit a beautifully restored, notable example in the Dutch city of Delft: the Maria van Jesse church.) Garish colours; what Italian art lovers would dismissingly label as a “north of the Alps kind of art, produced for women and children”. The original Rijksmuseum architect, Pierre Cuypers was a proud and fierce Roman Catholic. His daring stylistic choice of Neo-Gothic as the style, led to a public outcry in 1885, well before the opening months of the museum, because the edifice looked much like a “Roman Catholic Archbishop’s palace”. There was a deep feeling of betrayal; old school, nationalist Calvinists and politicians abhorred this stylistic choice, as did the royal House of Orange. For them the core of the Dutch state was essentially Protestant-Calvinist, born out of a struggle against the local ruler (victorious over the King of Spain, in 1648). Therefore, Calvinists became solidly anti-Roman Catholic. As a result of this politicized situation, the Dutch king decided not to be present when the Rijksmuseum building opened in 1885.

We now go fast forward. From 2001 on, the building was gutted, and many paintings have been in storage for as long as 10 years. The best works were still presented here as The Masterworks during that time in the small wing at the south end of the Rijksmuseum building. Superfluous paintings and objects were put in permanent storage or wisely lent out, distributed in many other museums and galleries such as the large Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam. Some museums abroad received valuable temporary loans of great masterworks, for instance by Vermeer. Loans form a game played on a high level among museum directors. Loaning a very good painting is useful when new exhibitions are in their preparation phase, and other specific loans are requested.

During my sneak preview I have only seen about 20% of the new building. And what I saw bowled me over. Everything in the Rijksmuseum is now spacious, clean and shiny and brilliant and exciting. One of the amazing architectural design decisions is re-creating the two central voids on the left and right of the building, positioned to the side of the central Gallery of Honour axis. They are now again completely empty and covered by glass in order to let a flood of daylight into many galleries, even down to the basement bookstore level. Thus these bright, light-filled halls are akin to the bright sculpture hall in the Louvre.

Back in the 1950s, these spaces were completely filled with a maze of rooms, clogging the visitor’s natural orientation and hindering obvious pathways.

All the way on top at the front of the building below slanted rooflines, a series of completely new galleries have been opened. I saw only the 20th century gallery containing a 20th century Dutch airplane and a section about De Stijl including Mondrian, WW2 objects and 1930s style rooms.

Basements, formerly unused except for by staff and the heating plant, have also been revamped and are now also filled with art objects.

The stated revolution in the Rijksmuseum presentation policy and style is that furniture as well as art and design objects have now been placed side by side with paintings from the same period. They form each other’s context, backdrop and sphere of influence.

I also saw a throng of trainees, the future new, official museum guides who were being instructed by the museum staff.

Yes, yes, yes, I can hardly wait to see the other 80% of the Rijksmuseum. To revisit my long-lost friends and personal favourites.