Posts Tagged ‘Love Letter’

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’s Lover Letter goes to Russia

October 15th, 2011

Love Letter by Vermeer. From the collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
In the Masterpieces from the World`s Museums in the Hermitage series
14 October – 6 November 2011
Italian Cabinet (233), New Hermitage
St Petersburg

Thanks to the long-term cooperation between the State Hermitage and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam the visitors can see today the famous Love Letter, a masterpiece by Johannes  Vermeer  from the collection of the Dutch museum, in one of the Hermitage rooms.

Essential Vermeer goes Facebook

March 6th, 2011


What does the global social network Facebook have to do with Vermeer? At first glance very little. Take a look at many of the art institutions’ Facebook pages that tend to be one-way monologues with insignificant interaction. People’s comments really don’t seem to matter.

And yet the chance to bring the Vermeer community a bit closer might be worth a try. I have found Facebook surprisingly efficient for diffusing news rapidly and opening lines of quick, two-way communication.

So what can you do? Have a look, leave a comment and keep on coming I’ll keep on plugging away for a year or so – the time necessary to evaluate any web initiative – and see if a marriage between social networking and art history makes any sense.

Vermeer Travels to Qatar

February 2nd, 2011

The Golden Age of Dutch Painting, Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum
11 March – 6 June, 2011
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, presents The Golden Age of Dutch Painting, Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, the first major exhibition of Dutch art in the Gulf region. It will take place in the temporary exhibition hall at the Museum of Islamic Art from 11 March – 6 June, 2011.

Forty-four paintings, among the best in the Rijksmuseum’s collection are being loaned to QMA. These paintings give a wide-ranging view of the artists, lifestyle and topography of Holland in the seventeenth century. Included are works of Rembrandt and Vermeer (The Love Letter ).


Vermeer’s Love Letter visits Vancouver

December 19th, 2008

Vermeer,  Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum
Vancouver Art Gallery
May 9 to September 13, 2009

This exhibition will highlight works of art of the 17th c. Dutch painting masters of the Golden Age. It will feature well over 100 works by many of the most celebrated masters of the period such as Aelbert Cuyp, Gerard Dou, Franz Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacob van Ruisdael, Gerard ter Borch and Johannes Vermeer, as well as an extraordinary selection of decorative arts, including furniture, silver, glassware, porcelain and textiles.

This exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum and will include Vermeer’s late masterpiece, The Love Letter.


October 24th, 2008

What ever the risks, many Vermeers are traveling again. Here is my count for 2008-2010 (two of them make two trips).

  1. The Astronomer – Atlanta 2008
  2. The Little Street – Toyko 2008
  3. Diana and her Compansions – Toyko 2008
  4. Christ in the House of Martha and Mary – Tokyo 2008
  5. Young Woman Seated at the Virginals – Tokyo 2008
  6. Woman with her Maid – Tokyo 2008
  7. Girl with the Wineglass – Tokyo 2008
  8. Lady Writing – Pasadena 2008
  9. Woman with a Pearl Nekclace – Rome 2008
  10. The Astronomer – Minneapolis 2010
  11. Christ in the House of Martha and Mary – The Hague 2010
  12. The Procuress – The Hague – 2010

Some believe shipping fragile old paintings is inherently a bad practice and that they rarely return precisely in the same condition. Austrian conservators recently battled with the Director General Wilfried Seipel of the Kunsthistorisches Museum to keep the Art of Painting from the Japanese rendezvous. Seipel shot back to the conservators who had advised giving the painting a necessary rest after a recent trip to The Hague: “I think this is a complete nonsense. If a painting lies it won’t look any better after two years.” The painting stayed home. The Herzog-Anton-Ulrich Museum quickly stepped up to the plate, the chance to bolster the reputation of the lesser-known Brunswick museum could not be passed up.

Are the risks worth it? It is no easy task to define success of an art exhibition that might offset the risks encountered (mere attendance doesn’t tell much). Perhaps it is not so much a question of staging traveling exhibitions or not: they are inevitable once museums no longer designate themselves as passive holders of the flame. It is more a matter of the quality of a travelling exhibition.

For example, Vermeer’s Love Letter came and went to Rome in 2006 without being noticed. The work was poorly hung on a garish orange wall with spotlights that produced more glare than anything else leaving the tiny work to fend for itself amongst the more robust pictures of the permanent collection. To justify the expense and occasion of a Vermeer in the Eternal City, little more was offered than a press conference to bring attention to the museum’s restructuring. I returned to the exhibit at least five times and rarely found more than few tourists amazed to find a Vermeer in Rome. Risks were run and little was gained.

On the other hand, see the invaluable rewards of texts such as Vermeer and the Delft School (ed. Liedtke) and Vermeer Studies (ed. Liedtke) and the Johannes Vermeer catalogue (ed. Wheelock) all consequences of two of the most imposing exhibitions dedicated to Vermeer. Because of them and the writings of the late John M. Montias, Vermeer is hardly the sphinx he used to be. The Achilles heel of such exhibits stems from their own success: viewing conditions of the paintings are often nearly prohibitive.

Obviously, the mere dimensions of an exhibition can hardly be equated with its quality. Modena, Italy staged an excellent exhibition in 2006 starring a single work, Vermeer’s Lady Seated at the Virginals. This late canvas was magisterially hung amidst analogous genre paintings and period objects (or similar ones) that Vermeer had used as props in his own composition. Van Baburen’s Procuress (1622), employed by Vermeer as a backdrop in his own work, proves even more vulgar than any reproduction can convey and the task of taming it to behave the Vermeer’s quiet pictorial laws appears even more amazing. When the Delft floor tiles, bass viol, and the fragile virginals on display reappear in Vermeer’s composition, they have been deprived of their most tactile values and transformed into pictorial essence: “the world has become paint.” Knowing Vermeer’s dire economic conditions in the years he painted the Lady and the intellectual struggle to transform the agitated world into still pictures, the exhibition uncovered a pathos that I had not been aware of.