Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 10



by Aillaud, Blankert and Montias

In September 2004, a newly revised edition of Vermeer will be published including a summary of all the new archival documents gathered by John Michael Montias surfaced since the publication of his seminal Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History in 1989.

VERMEER (1632–1675)
by Mariët Westermann

This edition takes a fresh look at the innovative role Vermeer played in Dutch art in the seventeenth century. It examines the four paintings by Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum's collection which span his whole career.

51 color- & 6 black/white illustrations, 64 pages, paperback

by Wayne Franits
New Haven/London: Yale University Press

This comprehensive book explores the evolution of genre painting throughout the Dutch Golden Age, beginning in the early 1600s and continuing through the opening years of the next century.

Mauritshuis Bulletin, volume 17, no. 1, March 2004
by Quentin Buvelot

Dr. Bulevot, curator at the Mauritshuis, has recently published an article about the previous owner of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, A. A. De Tombe who was "an exceptionally modest man of noble ancestry." De Tombe acquired this outstanding masterpiece for his private collection in 1882 in a most remarkable way after the painting had languished in total obscurity for centuries.

Simiolus, Netherlands quarterly for the history of art, volume 30, number 1/2, 2003
by Frances Suzman Jowell

Frances Suzman Jowell gives a meticulous and revealing account of Thoré- Bürger's personal art collection sold in 1892. Of the 59 paintings auctioned, less than half have been located. Thoré- Bürger is generally accredited with having recovered Vermeer's art from years of almost complete neglect since the death of the artist. In this auction were sold three Vermeer's and Carel Fabritius' Goldfinch, on which Bürger reportedly gazed until his last hour.

Novels and Poetry

by Matthew Hart

In the annals of art theft, no case has matched—for sheer criminal panache—the heist at Ireland's Russborough House in 1986.

The Irish police knew right away that the mastermind was a Dublin gangster named Martin Cahill. Yet the great plunder—including a Gainsborough, a Goya, two Rubenses, and a Vermeer—remained at large for years. Cahill taunted the police with a string of other crimes, but in the end it was the paintings that brought him low. The challenge of disposing of such famous works forced him to reach outside his familiar world into the international arena, and when he did, his pursuers were waiting.

The movie-perfect sting that broke Cahill uncovered an astonishing maze of banking and drug-dealing connections that redefined the way police view art theft. As if that were not enough, the recovery of the Vermeer—by then worth $200 million—led to a remarkable discovery about the way Vermeer achieved his photographic perspective.

LA DOPPIA VITA DI VERMEER (The Double Life of Vermeer, Italian)
by Luigi Guarnieri

Jan Vermeer di Delft è uno dei pittori più enigmatici, misteriosi e ambigui della storia dell'arte. Anche oggi la sua vita resta avvolta nell'oscurità, e ancor più la sua carriera artistica. Morto in disgrazia nel 1675, dimenticato per due secoli, viene riscoperto solo nella seconda metà dell'Ottocento. In breve tempo la sua fama cresce a dismisura, anche per merito dell'ammirazione che gli tributano scrittori celebri come Marcel Proust. Ma questo libro racconta soprattutto un'altra storia, la storia incredibile di Han van Meegeren, artista olandese del Novecento che, per vendicarsi dei critici che avevano stroncato il suo lavoro di pittore tradizionalista nel secolo delle avanguardie, dipinge una serie di falsi Vermeer.

A PARED AMARILLA ("The Yellow Wall" - Spanish)
by Carlos Pujol

LA PARED AMARILLA (título que recuerda las famosas páginas que Proust dedicó a la VISTA DE DELF) es un homenaje al pintor más misterioso de todos los tiempos: Johannes Vermeer, llamado Vermeer de Delf, el artista enigmático a fuerza de sencillez, "cuya belleza," leemos en la "Recherche," "se bastaba a sí misma." Aquí, en estos versos que reviven el mundo fascinante de Veermer, se pretende dar a su vida y a su obra un añadido que es propio de la literatura: la contemplación desde fuera, lo que un espectador maravillado y respetuoso puede ver intuitivamente en estos cuadros únicos, abiertos a la interpretación de la palabra poética.

by Blue Balliett, Brett Helquist (Illustrator)
June 2004

A series of mysterious events brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay right into the middle of an international art theft--one so confusing that even the FBI can not solve the crime. However, in order to solve the mystery themselves, Petra and Calder must first find and decipher the clues hidden in a succession of confusing puzzles. Clever readers can play along by searching out the clues hidden in the B&W illustrations.

In the News

(this news was kindly brought to my attention by John V.)

There are far-developed plans to reconstruct a building in the center of Delft that played a major role in the life of Johannes Vermeer: the building of the St Lucas Guild.

Unfortunately, the original building was demolished in 1876 and the structure that replaced it was a non-descript school building from the 50s. Project developer Van Oosten & De Vette has asked architects Molenaar en van Winden to make a plan for the rebuilding of the guildhall. The architects have studied all remaining pictures and drawings for their plans. However, they stress that the facade will be a refection of the original design, not a replica. The new building will allow more light inside than the original one did. The ornaments of the original building now decorate the walls of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Copies of them will be made and reinstated in Delft.

At the backside of the building, five wooden houses will be erected that reflect the times when Delft was completely made of wooden houses. The facades of these houses are not pendicular, the first floors are more spacious than the ground floors thus allowing more space in the streets. If plans are going to be executed indeed, chances are that the new Vermeer center will be housed in the St Lucas Guild building. If the financial plans turn out to be sound, the work will start in 2004 and will require one and a half year to complete.

The project will be a blessing for the local tourism. Although Delft is certainly a wonderful city, many of the buildings that played a role in life and work of Johannes Vermeer have been destroyed.


As most of us know by now, Tracy Chevalier's best selling novel Girl with a Pearl Earring has been recently adapted to the silver screen by Peter Weber. However, not all have been satisfied with the way Vermeer's family members have been portrayed. Among those who dissent are Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., Curator of Northern Baroque Painting of the National Gallery, organizer of the historic 1995/1996 Vermeer exhibition as well as author of important publications on the Delft master and Simon Jenkins, author and columnist for the London Times.

Wheelock in a recent interview* (see link below) states: "the film was quite beautiful, but I had a hard time with the characterization of Mrs. Vermeer. She was portrayed as a very unpleasant individual. And there's nothing at all remotely to suggest that in what we know about her. She was a model for a lot of his work. I don't think the picture is fair to her memory."

Jenkins has written a strongly critical article entitled "Johannes Vermeer, you've been framed." ** (see link below) in which the premise of the novel and film is picked apart. Jenkins is extremely unsatisfied with both the portrayal of Vermeer and his wife as well as with the idea that Griet, Chevalier's fictitious young maid had posed for Vermeer's masterwork Girl with a Pearl Earring. Although Jenkins recognizes that the "novel and the film make no pretence to historical truth" he argues that the negative images of Catharina and Johannes Vermeer "are doomed to be forever fixed in the public imagination as the "true" Vermeer." According to Jenkins, that is wholly at odds with all that scholars have gleaned of Vermeer's home life..." and that "there is not a shred of evidence that Johannes and Catharina were unhappily married."

Jenkins is convinced that Vermeer's youngest daughter, Maria, posed for the Mauritshuis masterpiece even though there exist not historical evidence in regards.

* "Vermeer's work becomes part of viewer's soul"
by James Auer, April 21, 2004 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

** "Johannes Vermeer, you've been framed"
By Simon Jenkins
October 28, 2003

Posted on Mon, April 12, 2004
Las Vegas Review-Journal Gaming Column

"For just 24 hours, from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 5 p.m. Thursday, Las Vegas was graced by a Johannes Vermeer painting. Developer Steve Wynn had Sotheby's fly out Young Woman Seated At The Virginals so he could see how it would look in The Wynn Collection at the old Desert Inn. It is the only Vermeer not in a museum. Wynn said he really wants the painting to hang in Las Vegas."

*** by Rod Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
which may be read at:

If you would like to know more about Mr. Wynn, here are two interesting links:


The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
May 14 until November 7

The Royal Collection contains one of the world's finest groups of Dutch seventeenth-century paintings. Among the most enduringly popular images in Western Art, these pictures have for centuries been admired for their harmonious compositions, close observation of detail, subtle light effects and meticulous finish. The 51 outstanding examples selected for the exhibition embrace genre scenes, portraits, still lifes, history paintings, landscapes and seascapes. They include works by the great masters of the period, among them Rembrandt's jewel-like Christ and Saint Mary Magdalen at the Tomb and his Self-Portrait of 1642, luminous landscapes by Aelbert Cuyp, and Johannes Vermeer's enigmatic A Lady at the Virginals.

The Official Site of the Royal Monarchy
Sunday Herald Online:

The Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno
Until July 4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (until 7 p.m. on Fridays and April 29-May 9), closed on Mondays except May 3.

Vermeer's Art of Painting will be shown at the Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno, Japan in an exhibition of Dutch and Flemish art among works such as Rembrandt's Saint Paul (1636), Self-Portrait 1655) and Peter Paul Rubens' Self Portrait (ca 1638/40).

The Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno
8-36 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo (110-0007)
03-3823-6921 03-3823-6920
(a seven-minute walk from JR Ueno Station)

The exhibition will travel to:
Kobe City Museum
24, Kromachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe
from July 17-October 11. (078) 391-0035

See newspaper article:
"Vermeer Work Top Draw among Dutch, Flemish Art"
Shogo Hagiwara Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Essential Vermeer nEWSLETTERS

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 /11/ 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 31 /32 / 33 / 34 / 35 / 36 / 37/ 38 / 39 / 40