Vermeer exhibition opens in Rijksmuseum this week; 28 paintings from 7 countries
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is opening its first retrospective exhibition of Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) to the public on Friday, February 10. “The 28 Vermeer paintings in this show - from seven countries around the world - make this the most complete overview of his work ever mounted,” according to the museum.
The Rijksmuseum called it “unprecedented” to have so many of Vermeer’s paintings in one place at the same time, loaned from 14 museums and private collections from seven countries. The Frick Collection in New York agreed to lend its three Vermeer masterpieces - Mistress and Maid; Girl, Interrupted at Her Music; and Officer and Laughing Girl - to a European museum for the first time in a century. Seven of the paintings will be exhibited in the Netherlands for the first time in 200 years.
The exhibit was designed by French architect and designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Spread over ten halls, it explores the artist’s ambitions, work, private life, religion, and social environment.
“Vermeer did not produce many paintings. Their impact, however, is unforgettable,” said Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits. “In a world making constant demands upon us, the calm and intimacy of his work bring time to a standstill.”
The Vermeer exhibit was preceded by a great deal of research done in collaboration with the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the University of Antwerp. Scans of his paintings using modern technologies and techniques revealed two objects in The Milkmaid and that Vermeer used an underpainting as his guide, for example. The research will continue during and after the exhibition, and the findings will be presented at an international symposium at the Rijksmuseum in 2025 - 350 years after Vermeer’s death.
Vermeer will run from February 10 to June 4. Over 200,000 tickets have already been sold. The museum also launched a digital exhibit, with commentary by Stephen Fry in English and Joy Delima in Dutch, for those who can’t physically attend.