Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 18

March 2006


Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica a Palazzo Barberini
27 April-18 June, 2006
Via dei Quattro Fontane 13
Rome, Italy
tel. 0632810. 08.30-19.30. (Monday closed)

Johannes Vermeer's late masterpiece Love Letter will be on loan from 27 April to 18 June to initiate the rebirth of one of Rome's greatest museums, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica a Palazzo Barberini. Vermeer's This exceptional loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam reciprocates the Rome Galleria Nazionale loan of its precious Caravaggio Judith and Holofemes to the "Rembrandt/Caravaggio" exhibition now underway organized by the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The exhibition was also made possible by the cooperation with di Credit Suisse (Italy).

further exhibition info and accompanying texts (in Italian) are available at the Mondomostra website:

For more information on The Love Letter, please see the newly added multi-media interactive study dedicated to this singular masterpiece. Navigators can explore the paintings iconographic and technical complexities simply by scrolling the mouse over one of the 20 hot areas of the image. To savor the atmosphere of the time, one can also listen to a MP3 file of period music for the cittern, the curious musical instrument which the mistress holds on her lap.

interactive study of Vermeer's Love Letter



Working at the Warburg Institute in London, Koenraad Van Cleempoel has identified the astrolabe which appears on the table in Vermeer's Astronomer as being by Willem Jansz Blaeu, the same author of the map in The Geographer. The astrolabe is an historical astronomical instrument and analog computer used by classical astronomers and astrologers. Its many uses included locating, and predicting the positions of, the Sun, Moon, planets and stars; determining local time given local longitude, and vice-versa; surveying and triangulation.

The identification was done after a series of detailed engravings of astrolabes by Blaeu, which are dedicated to Metius and published in Metius's book Astrolabium of 1632. The engravings were made between 1624 and 1628 in Amsterdam, as would have been his brass astrolabes.

More detailed information about Mr. Van Cleempoel's finding is published in an essay which introduces catalogue of astrolabes at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich:
K. Van Cleempoel, "Representations of astrolabes in western art," in K. Van Cleempoel (ed.), Astrolabes at Greenwich. A Catalogue of the Astrolabes in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 99–111.

available at

Lecture - Conference

by Mariët Westermann, Ph.D.,
Washington University in St. Louis, 21. April 2006-04-22

Mariët Westermann, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, will lecture on "In the House of Mirrors: Painting and Experience in the Dutch Republic" at 4 p.m. April 24 in Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 305.

Westermann is the final speaker appearing this spring as part of The Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences' 2006 Faculty Fellows Lecture and Workshop Series. Her talk will center around her recent work on the mirror as a luxury item in seventeenth-century Dutch culture and as a model for new kinds of painting.

Westermann has published a number of important writings on Dutch seventeenth-century painting including: Art and Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt (2001); Rembrandt (2000); The Amusements of Jan Steen: Comic Painting in the Seventeenth Century (1997); and A Worldly Art: The Dutch Republic 1585–1700 (1996). In particular, Vermeer enthusiasts won't forget "Johannes Vermeer," 1632–1675 (2005) and the most refined essay Vermeer and the Interior Imagination contained in the catalogue of the Prado exhibition, Vermeer and the Dutch Interior (2002) edited by Alejanrdo Vergara.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Public lecture by George O'Hanlon, Natural Pigments LLC
May 11, 2006 2:30 p.m.
East Building Small Auditorium, National Gallery, Washington, DC

George O'Hanlon has traveled the world in search of unique sources of pigment. As founder of Natural Pigments, an artists' materials company, he brings his expertise to focus on the origins of pigments used by medieval and Renaissance artists as well as their revival by contemporary artists. He will discuss the physical and visual characteristics of many common and rare pigments. The lecture will be accompanied by digital image projection.

Natural Pigments website:



The CODART website is an international council for curators of Dutch and Flemish art and one of the richest resources for all those who study and love Dutch and Flemish art enthusiasts. Its aim is to further cooperation in the study and display of art from the Low Countries.

Among its most valuable resource is the e-mail notification service which keeps subscribers updated about for opening and closing dates of exhibitions and other important news.

subscription service:

CODART home page:

Essential Vermeer Website Additions


Following along one of my pet projects, I have just completed and uploaded the latest multi-media interactive the latest entry to the Complete Online Vermeer Catalogue. Internet navigators will be able to comfortably explore the iconographical and pictorial intricacies of one of Vermeer's most complex and suggestive interiors by simply rolling the mouse over three special topics and 19 "hot areas" of a high quality image of the painting. To savor the atmosphere of the time, one can also listen to a MP3 file of period music for the cittern, the curious musical instrument which the mistress holds on her lap.


Cinema Village in New York City from April 21–27

The documentary film Stolen about the largest unsolved art theft in American history opens in theaters. Stolen will make its premiere theatrical run at Cinema Village in New York City from April 21–27 as well as select theaters across the country. To find a theater near you please visit To purchase tickets for the New York release visit

A film by Rebecca Dreyfus

In 1990, thieves disguised as police officers gained entrance to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and executed the largest art heist in modern times. The critically acclaimed documentary Stolen is a stirring glimpse into the worlds of art and crime an in-depth exploration of this stunning theft.

The trailer and find additional listings can be accessed at:

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