Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 17



(a special exhibition of 48 splendid paintings of one of the finest contemporaries of Johannes Vermeer)
February 26–May 21, 2006
West Building, Dutch Cabinet Galleries

from the NGA website:
Praised by contemporaries as the most important of all Leiden fijnschilders (masters of fine painting), Frans van Mieris (1635–1681) is best known for his innovative interior scenes and elegant portraits. Although Van Mieris painted serious allegories and portraits, most of his works are thoughtful yet lighthearted genre scenes. Quacks, peasants, elegantly dressed ladies, soldiers and pets appear in different combinations, mostly painted on copper, often stressing themes such as love, deceit, vanity and imitation. Van Mieris' pictures were widely copied by contemporaries and influenced many fellow painters, including Vermeer. Intimate in scale, the masterpieces rarely measure more than fifteen square inches. The works were selected in consultation with the Van Mieris scholar Otto Naumann whose catalogue contribution appears alongside writings by leading scholars.

An interesting review on the New York Times website by Ken Johnson which examines Van Mieris' art in relation to Vermeer's can be read at:

NGA exhibition website page:

NGA press information:

12 page exhibition brochure download:



Fortunately, the life and art of Rembrandt has been honored by a significant number of general texts and scholarly studies. This year the list will be growing. I have listed more than 30 past, present and future publications covering almost every conceivable aspect of the master's life and work on an up-to-date online bookshop. Where to start? A brand new overview by one of the most renowned Rembrandt specialists, Gary Schwartz, is right around the corner. This publication covers a complete and accessible introduction to Rembrandt's life; his work as an artist; his place in the Dutch seventeenth century, European civilization and present-day culture (Dutch title De grote Rembrandt, European title, The Great Rembrandt). From there on, you must simply let yourself be guided by your specific interests, tastes and pocketbook.

"The Great Rembrandt" by Gary Schwartz (publishing date: June 2006)


A painting is a world without change and without sound. Vermeer's paintings, instead, are full of musical instruments and people making music. In almost one third of his paintings, music is present in one way or another. As most all of us know, Dutch painting experts generally believe that underneath Vermeer's seemingly straightforward portrayals of young people engaged in a pleasurable pastime lies another level of meaning which can be understood only with consultation of period emblematic literature and other historical references, a fascinating topic in itself.

But to appreciate the full significance of music in Vermeer's paintings, we must also know something about the musical milieu in Vermeer's time, the musical instruments in his compositions, their history and playing technique and lastly, the particular sound made by each instrument and the music that was performed on them. The 19 page multi-media project investigates many of these in detail and offers the opportunity to listen to numerous MP3 audio files of period music performed by expert musicians.

This detailed and fully documented project was realized with the generous collaboration and dedication of Adelheid Rech.

On the Net

by Jonathan Janson

Comprehensive overview of the life and art of Rembrandt van Rijn with more than 500 high resolution images of his paintings, etchings, drawings and self portraits. The site includes complete catalogues of Rembrandt's etchings and paintings and selected drawings plus critical assessments of the artist's production. Special features include a pronunciation guide to names and terms related to Rembrandt, an up-to-date bookshop of past present and future publications concerning almost every aspect of the master's life and work and much more.


The Mauritshuis website has just been renewed which is finally worthy of its unique collection (the Mauritshuis has the habit of doing things well). The graphic layout is particularly refined and care has been taken to give ample and instructive information for those who wish to delve deeper into the collection. The renewed website now lists every painting in the collection and the most significant works. Naturally all three paintings by Vermeer and listed. Each work is accompanied by informative text, image details and in some case, interesting technical notes. zoom feature which allows the view to examine each picture at close range.

home page English:

paintings in detail:

zoom feature for a painting of Jan van der Heyden's View of the Oude Delft Canel, Delft (c.1660)

Perhaps the art history community has been too slow in realizing the enormous potentials of the internet. In any case, a select group of institutions has begun to exhibit their collections online taking advantage of technological innovations that enable us to inspect at close quarters their works of art. At the Detroit Institute of Arts website, for example, it is possible to view 50 or so etchings by Rembrandt quite closely, more than you would think.

I would like to pass on to you one of the most delightful discoveries I have made: a view of Delft painted in Vermeer's time by Jan van der Heyden. It is difficult to remain indifferent as one zooms into the detail of a young woman piously doing her wash in the Delft canal, or the child who reaches out to its mother, oblivious to the tower of the Oude Kerk which looms above him. I am personally touched by the way each brick with its surrounding mortar are rendered with such humility.

To be sure, no image on our monitor can substitute the direct experience of the unique physical reality of good painting. Many of those nuances which make a work of art what it is, are lost in any form of reproduction. But perhaps, in the case of those works that we know, but will never have the chance to see, to say nothing of the thousands upon thousands of minor works rarely if ever reproduced, is it not better a zoom view on our monitor?

Detroit Institute of Arts

Once you have accessed this page click on the "zoom view" icon and enlarge the image.

Off the Beaten Track


People find many ways to express their love for Vermeer and some of them let me know about it here at the Essential Vermeer. Cheryl Miller kindly informed me that she constructed a miniature of Vermeer's studio which was featured in the "Miniature Collector Magazine" (February 2006). Cheryl's finely crafted (and researched) miniature displays the Delft Master in his studio painting the Girl with a Pearl Earring. The first page of the article can be viewed temporarily at:

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