Posts Tagged ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’

Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter travels to Washington D. C.

October 16th, 2015

Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter from the Rijksmuseum
September 19 – December 1, 2015
National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C.
West Building, Main Floor – Gallery 50C

from the National Gallery of Art website:
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Gallery’s history-making exhibition Johannes Vermeer (1995–1996), the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is lending one of its great treasures: Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. Last seen in Washington in 1996, this luminous masterpiece has been recently restored and will hang in the Gallery’s Dutch and Flemish Cabinet Galleries alongside other works by Vermeer in the permanent collection, including Girl with the Red Hat.

Related Activities

The Vermeer Phenomenon
November 15, 2:00–3:30 p.m.
East Building Auditorium
Maygene Daniels (chief of Gallery Archives), Arthur Wheelock (curator of northern baroque paintings), and Deborah Ziska (chief of press and public information) give a lecture about the Vermeer exhibition’s origins, importance, popularity, and impact.

gallery talk:
Woman in Blue Reading a Letter by Johannes Vermeer
September 24–28, 30, 12:00 p.m.
October 8, 21–23, 27–29, 2:00 p.m.
West Building, Main Floor, Rotunda
Diane Arkin or Eric Denker (30 mins.)

Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter travels to San Diego

April 16th, 2015

The Private World of Vermeer
The Timken Museum, San Diego CA
May 14 – Sept. 11, 2015

The Timken Museum of Art will exhibit one of the finest works by Vermeer from May 14 through Sept. 11, 2015. The exhibition, The Private World of Vermeer, showcases his masterpiece, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. This generous loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam marks the first appearance of this remarkable painting in San Diego. The Timken’s special installation allows visitors to have an intimate experience with Woman in Blue Reading a Letter and highlights one of the most celebrated painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

The four-month exhibition also features a variety of events, which include noted scholars on Vermeer. Many of the events are free to the public and are designed to give guests an enhanced understanding of the Vermeer and other masterpieces in the Timken’s collection:

1. Guest Lecture
“Extraordinary Observation: Vermeer’s Woman in Blue”
speaker: Anne Woollett (curator, department of paintings, J. Paul Getty Museum)
Monday, May 18 at 10 a.m.
admission: Free

In its compositional refinement and visual impact, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter represents a turning point in Vermeer’s career. This lecture considers Vermeer’s signature approach—its rapid development in previous works, and the sophisticated handling of space and light in this work and the so-called “pearl pictures.”

Anne Woollett is curator at the department of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. She specializes in northern European painting before 1800, and is currently working on a catalogue the Getty’s Flemish paintings.

2. Art in the Evening Lecture and Reception
speaker: Arthur K. Wheelock, curator of Northern Baroque painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m.
admission: $35 member / $45 non-member

Arthur K. Wheelock is the curator of Northern Baroque painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and author of the 1995 publication Vermeer and the Art of Painting. He is one of the most prolific writers on Vermeer and offers numerous insights linking painting techniques and artistry.

3. Guest Lecture
“Vermeer’s Time: The Woman in Blue”
speaker: Ann Jensen Adams (professor, UC Santa Barbara)
Monday, June 8 at 10 a.m.
admission: Free

Vermeer’s paintings of figures engaged in quiet activities are masterpieces of silence. They have also been described as “stilled lives.”This lecture discusses Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter in relation to contemporaneous concerns about the passage of time, and its measurement.

Ann Jensen Adams is a professor and graduate advisor at UC Santa Barbara, department of the history of art and architecture. Her research includes 17th-century Dutch art, particularly portraiture, and the impact upon imagery of early modern developments in natural history.

4. Free Family Fun
Tall Tales at the Timken
Saturday, June 13 at 11 a.m
speaker: Harlynne Geisler .
Admission: Free

Bring your kids to explore Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. Professional storyteller Harlynne Geisler will weave fanciful tales around this masterwork that was created 350 years ago. Ages 5+ are welcome. No reservations required.

5. Art in the Afternoon Gallery Talk
“The Unseen Window in Vermeer’s “Woman in Blue Reading a Letter”
Wednesday, June 24 at 12:30 p.m.
speaker: Karen Hellman (assistant curator, department of photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum)
admission: Free

Although the canvases of Vermeer were created two centuries prior to the invention of photography, their quiet, luminous depictions of interior scenes have often been related to “photographic” qualities. This presentation discusses a few ways in which photography can offer a new lens through which to view Woman in Blue Reading a Letter.

Karen Hellman is an assistant curator in the department of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She is the curator of the exhibitions, “In Focus: Picturing Landscape” (2012), “At the Window: The Photographer’s View” (2013), and “In Focus: Ansel Adams” (2014). Currently she is working on a forthcoming exhibition “In Focus: Daguerreotypes” (fall 2015). She received her master’s in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, in 2004, and she received her doctorate in art history from The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, in 2010.

6. Art in the Afternoon Gallery Talk
“Discordant Serenity and the Painting of Vermeer”
Wednesday, July 1 at 12:30 p.m.
speaker: Claudine Dixon (curatorial administrator, prints and drawings, Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Admission: Free

Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter will be discussed in the context of some of the historical and contemporary events surrounding the painting and its fantastic journey from 17th century Delft in the Netherlands to recent visits to Southern California. The writings of various authors, including essayist Lawrence Weschler and poet W. H. Auden, offer variant paths to consider thoughts and musings about history and art, allowing us to look at our relationship to this picture and think about a perspective that lies beyond the painted surface.

Claudine Dixon is the curatorial administrator for the department of prints and drawings at the LACMA. Before joining LACMA, Claudine worked at the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum. In addition to museum positions, she has taught art history courses for UCLA Extension, most notably on German art of the 19th and 20th centuries, and Rembrandt and Dutch art of the 17th century. 

7. Guest Lecture
“The Interior Life of Vermeer”
Monday, July 13 at 10 a.m.
Amy Walsh (curator of European paintings, Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
admission: Free

Gallery talks feature leading curators, historians, scholars, and artists. Guests will walk, talk, and explore the Timken collection and special exhibitions. Registration is not required.

For more events and details about The Private World of Vermeer, visit the website at or call (619) 239-5548.

About the Timken Museum of Art
Known as one of the finest small museums in the world, the Timken Museum of Art celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015, and provides visitors with an accessible and enriching cultural experience featuring a beautiful collection, intimate surroundings, and free admission.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sundays, noon to 4:30 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. For more information, visit Follow the museum on Facebook or Twitter at @TimkenArtMuseum or call (619) 239-5548.

Surprise exhibition of Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter in Minneapolis

February 7th, 2015

January 16 – May 3, 2015
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Cargill Gallery)
Minneapolis, Minn.
price: free of charge

“On Vermeer’s Woman Reading a Letter: A Q&A with MIA’s Patrick Noon”
by Pamela Espeland

Lawrence Weschler | “Posers: Marvel, Majesty and Sovereignty among the Habsburgs and in Vermeer”
Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm

With one of the world’s finest Vermeer paintings presently residing at the MIA alongside a magnificent exhibition of Habsburg splendors, Lawrence Weschler will unpack a posit about posing and the posed. Kings, queens, noblemen, and noblewomen are continually striking a pose, but who exactly is posing whom (and what?) when a painter attempts to capture that stance? And what was Vermeer up to when he set about capturing something altogether new and different in his portraits? In other words, what does it mean to be sovereign—sovereign over what, in whose eyes, and to what end?

Lawrence Weschler is director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and author of such books as Vermeer in Bosnia and Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder.

$10; $5 MIA members; free for Paintings Affinity Group members. To register, call (612) 870-6323 or reserve online.

New Vermeer Publication

August 7th, 2013
Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (Rijksmuseum publication)
by Gregor J.M. Weber
64 pages full-colour, paperback, 18×11 cm
Dutch and English

Don’t have any information but the Rijksmuseum has published (in Dutch and English) a 64-page full color booklet by Gregor Weber on Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. Should be very interesting.

click here to order.

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.

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.


Vermeer’s Woman in Blue still at the Getty

March 13th, 2013

Imagining what Vermeer wrote

March 5th, 2013

An Essential Vermeer friend informs me that in an attempt to involve potential art goers, the Getty Museum’s Anne Martens writer solicits them to imagine the first line of the letter being ready by Vermeer’s Woman in Blue with a Letter, which temporarily exhibited at the Getty. Here’s a video with selected responses:

You can also see related events at the Getty here:

New high-resolution image of Vermeer’s recently restored Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

October 19th, 2011

CLICK HERE  to access high resolution image

The Rijksmuseum has updated their hi-res image of the Woman in Blue Reading a Letter after its recent restoration. At first sight it looks a bit disjointed as pictures always do after restoration. The whole much cooler in hue now the long winding scarf-like piece of cloth on the table, once fairly muddled, can be made out a bit better recalling a similar scarf-like object that drapes down in the Art of Painting. The figure has gained much force and now stands out of the picture more than it did before the dark, yellow varnish was removed. The painting now appears to have greater spatial resonance and sense of volume.

Some color can be made out in the map as well as a few topographical features which had been overpainted. A row of discreet brass buttons with tiny highlights now run along the side of the foreground chair which had been completely obscured by retouches.

Miyagi Museum of Art dates cleared up for Vermeer exhibition

May 18th, 2011

Other than the previously announced (see entry below for details) world premiere of Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter after its restoration, Lady Writing and the Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid will be a part of the exhibition Communication: Visualizing Human Connection in the Age of Vermeer in Japan. Here are the final dates.

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Kyoto:   25 June – 16 Oct 2011
Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai:     27 Oct-2011 – 12 Dec 2011
The Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo:    23 Dec – 14 March 2012