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Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 23

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 / 41 / 42 / 43 / 44



by Walter Liedtke
October 29, 2008

Since his rediscovery in the later half of the nineteenth century, Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) has been one of the most admired and influential European painters. His extremely private life, his supposed use of a camera obscura, and the fact that his teacher remains unidentified have, until recently, encouraged a view of the Sphinx of Delft as an isolated genius shrouded in an air of mystery. Walter Liedtke's new monograph reveals Vermeer's life to be well-documented and places his work in the context of the Delft school and of Delft society as a whole. Vermeer's many admirers will relish Liedtke's exploration of subtleties of meaning and refinements of technique and style. Alongside the most historical approach to Vermeer to date, the annotated color catalogue of Vermeer's complete paintings reveals a master whose rare sensibility may be described but not explained.

Walter Liedtke is Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He has written widely on Dutch painting and the Delft school and curated important exhibitions of Dutch art at the MET.

by Jonathan Lopez

Best remembered for selling a fake Vermeer to Hermann Goering during the Second World War, Han van Meegeren never admitted to creating any fakes dating from before 1937—but there have always been rumors suggesting that his career actually began much earlier than that. Drawing upon three years of archival research conducted in five nations and interviews with the descendants of Van Meegeren's partners in crime, Jonathan Lopez reveals that Van Meegeren worked virtually his entire adult life turning out bogus old masters for a ring of art-world intriguers operating out of London and Berlin. Major dealers like Sir Joseph Duveen were stung by these forgeries, as was the great Pittsburgh banker Andrew Mellon, who bought two of Van Meegeren's fake Vermeers during the 1920s. As Koen Kleijn of De Groene Amsterdammer has remarked, The Man Who Made Vermeers shatters the popular image of Han van Meegeren as a lone gunman or picaresque rogue. Jonathan Lopez reveals the master forger as an arch-opportunist, a cunning liar, and a fervent sympathizer of the fascist cause from as early as 1928. Deftly reconstructing an insidious network of illicit trade in the art market's underworld, Lopez allows few reputations to emerge unscathed in this gripping and delicious book.

slideshow of all the images of the book:

book extract:

by Vincent Etienne

from Amazon.com:
Young readers will delight in this journey through the life and work of one of history's most distinctive and enigmatic painters.

Scenes of domestic life and luminous color make Vermeer's art both accessible and irresistible. Designed and written to appeal to young readers, this engaging introduction to the Dutch master encourages children to experience the charm and mystery of Vermeer's work. Large, vibrant reproductions allow for a close study of the fascinating details that make Vermeer s paintings so compelling and allow the colors for which he was so famous to leap off the page. While recent books and movies have brought Vermeer into the forefront of popular culture, this lively and informative book introduces the artist to children.

about the author:
Vincent Etienne is an art historian and the author of numerous books on art.

by Edward Dolnick

from Amazon.com:
As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger's Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him centuries later. The con man's mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.

It was an almost perfect crime. For seven years a no-account painter named Han van Meegeren managed to pass off his paintings as those of one of the most beloved and admired artists who ever lived. But, as Edward Dolnick reveals, the reason for the forger's success was not his artistic skill. Van Meegeren was a mediocre artist. His true genius lay in psychological manipulation, and he came within inches of fooling both the Nazis and the world. Instead, he landed in an Amsterdam court on trial for his life.

book extract:


The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
from: October 12, 2008–September 6, 2009

The Louvre and the Masterpiece will explore how the definition of a "masterpiece," as well as taste and connoisseurship, have changed over time. The exhibition will feature ninety-one works of art drawn from all eight of the Musée du Louvre's collection areas, spanning 4,000 years. Paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, and drawings will reflect three major themes: the changing historical and cultural definitions of a masterpiece; authenticity and connoisseurship; and the evolution of taste and scholarship. The exhibition is divided into three sections which together explore a range of thematic questions about the concept of a masterpiece. The exhibition includes Vermeer's Astronomer. February 17, 2009 The Card Shark by Georges de la Tour arrives to replace Vermeer's Astronomer.

museum website:

by Christy Desmith

A big announcement from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts earlier today: The museum will host an exhibition called "The Louvre and the Masterpiece" from October 18, 2009, to January 10, 2010. The U.S. Bank-sponsored show will feature world-famous paintings from the Paris museum's permanent collection, including Johannes Vermeer's Astronomer and Georges de la Tour's Card-Sharp with Ace of Clubs.

In all, the exhibition, which will feature 90 pieces of art from all eight of the Louvre's collecting areas, reaches far beyond the European masters as well as "a sampling of Egyptian work as well as Islamic as well as sculpture and decorative arts," according to Kaywin Feldman, director and president of the MIA.

museum website:

Rembrandt to Vermeer. Civil Values in 17th century Flemish and Dutch Painting
Fondazione Roma, Museo del Corso
November 11, 2008 to February 15, 2009

For the first time in Italy, it will finally be possible to admire a large selection of works belonging the world's most important collection of seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish paintings: that of Berlin's Gemäldegalerie, which includes masterpieces such as Rembrandt's The Money Changer, Gerrit ter Borch's Parental Admonition and Vermeer's Woman with a Pearl Necklace.

Representing the Golden Century of Flemish and Dutch art, the exhibition focuses on the development of the genre of the domestic interior, which was dedicated to family life and reflected the innovative social context and civil values of Holland in the seventeenth century. The 55 masterpieces on display will enable visitors to learn about the art and culture of Flanders and Holland during their "Golden Century."


by Esmée Quodbach
June 3 to November 2, 2008

For a limited period the three Vermeer's in the Frick Collection will been hung side by side in the South Hall.

The Frick Collection possess three works by Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), Officer and Laughing Girl, Mistress and Maid, and Girl Interrupted at Her Music. These rare canvases were purchased by Henry Clay Frick before his death in 1919. This summer, the institution offers visitors their first opportunity in nearly ten years to examine the paintings together on one wall. Their presentation in the South Hall is accompanied by a panel that traces Frick's interest in the artist and places him in the context of other early American collectors of Vermeer's work. An education program involving Colin B. Bailey, Associate Director and Peter Jay Sharp, Chief Curator, is planned for September.

The summer "Members' Magazine" features an illuminating essay on the market for Vermeer's paintings as well as an account of how Henry Clay Frick collected these three magnificent Vermeer's written by Esmée Quodbach ('The Sphinx of Delft': Rediscovering Vermeer at The Frick Collection"). Esmée Quodbach is the Assistant to the Director of the Center for the History of Collecting in America. * "'The Sphinx of Delft': Rediscovering Vermeer at The Frick Collection" is also available online at:



It had been announced by the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum that seven Vermeer paintings, including The Art of Painting, would be from the principal part of the large exhibition Vermeer and the Delft Style, 2nd August until 14th, 2008.

But The Art of Painting was not sent to Japan. The Director General of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna, Wilfried Seipel, who will retire from this post at the end of the year, once lead the negotiations with the Japanese representatives despite the fact, that since 1971 The Art of Painting is on the Austrian museums' list of those art objects which are not permitted to leave for loan abroad. Furthermore, it was once stated, that "in the future there should be paid far more respect to the objections and advises of the responsible conservators" during the procedures to follow on a loan request. Although the painting had been thoroughly restored in 2004, conservators discouraged the authorities from any further loan due to the painting's still extremely fragile condition.

In its review to the KHM from 2004, the Austrian 'Bundesrechnungshof' (RH; Federal audit division) criticized Seipel's "arbitrary acting" who, ignoring both the museums' list and serious objections of the conservators, loaned The Art of Painting to Madrid (2003), The Hague (2005) and to Japan. Seipel argued, that "with every loan of the KHM, the risks the management is responsible for, are by all means compatible to the advantages to be expected." Moreover, the c. 25 exhibitions presented by the KHM within the last years in Japan, have brought the positive effect that the Japanese now represent the second largest group of all visitors of the KHM. The RH countered, that the art objects of the KHM are still in the ownership of the Austrian Federation. That means that every request for a loan of the objects has to pass a procedure for permission, and that the decisions of the authorities have to be carefully observed. In the case of the renewed loan of The Art of Painting which Seipel had required for the large Tokyo exhibition, the responsible Austrian 'Bundesdenkmalamt' (Federal Heritage Department) refused to give permission. Seipel thereupon called the Austrian Ministry for Cultural Affairs as the superior department which examined the case and announced to decide "until end of July."

According to a message from the online-magazine wienweb.at

From 15th July 2008, the Ministry for Cultural Affairs has already confirmed the decision of the Federal Heritage Department not to permit the loan of the highly fragile painting, following herein also the objections of the responsible conservators as well as the fact that since 1971 the painting is listed as 'not permitted for any loan'. So The Art of Painting did not have to travel once more to Japan. Director Seipel complained the decision as a "hyperbolical precaution," now causing a loss of "400.000 Euros at least" from the lending fee, which has already been calculated in the budget. To the earnest advice of the conservators, to give the painting the badly necessary rest, he argued: "I think this is a complete nonsense. If a painting lies [sic!] it won't look any better after two years."

It seems that Vermeer's Girl with a Glass of Wine from the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Brunswick (Germany) has taken over the role of The Art of Painting as the centerpiece of the Tokyo exhibition, as this picture now adorns every official poster, banner or flyer. For the Tokyo officials it was of particular importance to have this splendid example of Vermeer's early mature period, which shows considerable relations to Vermeer's painter-colleagues Pieter de Hooch and Gerrit ter Borch, the former on display as well, as a major representative of the Delft-School. For Director Luckhardt from the Brunswick museum it was by far no easy decision to send the Girl with a Glass of Wine to Japan. He said that "the painting is deeply missed by local as well as by foreign visitors of the museum," to say nothing of the severe risks and dangers of such a venture. But he considered the extraordinary significance and world-wide international attention of this exhibition, which vice versa would have the positive effect of enhancing the excellent reputation of the entire Brunswick museum. And Tokyo spared no costs and paid an enormous sum for insurance and the transport, executed by a specialized forwarding agency, in a special shock-proof climate-box ensuring the exact and constant degree of humidity like in the Brunswick-museum. But contrary to Vienna, Brunswick doesn't get a loan fee. Dr. Silke Gatenbröcker said, that this would "not be usual practice between museums." She and conservator Verena Herwig attended the painting to Tokyo to supervise and ensure the correct treatment and hanging.


Wien ORF (Austrian Radio and Television), 05.07.2008:
Seipel will fragiles Gemälde verschiffen

Der Standard, 04.07.2008:
Seipel verleiht Vermeer wieder nach Japan

Der Standard.at/Kultur, 4.07.2008:
Wilfried Seipel äußert sich zu teurem Vermeer

wienweb, 15./17.07.2008:
Keine Tournee für "Malkunst"

Braunschweiger Zeitung et al., 13.08.2008


Vermeer Related Conference at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Grace Rainey Rodgers Auditorium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 14, 2008 - Lecture, 6:00 pm

from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website:

Between 1887 and 1917, thirteen paintings by Johannes Vermeer and several works wrongly attributed to him entered American collections. Continuing demand for Vermeer's rare pictures (36 are known today) created a niche market for forgers during the 1920s and 1930s, of whom the most gifted and notorious was the Dutch artist Han van Meegeren, who was active as a forger throughout most of the inter-war period.

Metropolitan Museum curator Walter Liedtke (author of a new monograph on Vermeer) and independent scholar Jonathan Lopez (author of a new biography of Van Meegeren) consider the difference between a Vermeer of about 1660 and one of about 1925.

Tickets go on sale on or about September 1 Order online (after September 1) at the Met's website, by phone at (212) 570-3949 by phone at (212) 570-3949, or in person at the Concerts & Lectures box office, located in the Museum's Great Hall, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street).

online tickets:



Pamela Glintenkamp of Sandpail Productions has just begun pre-production for a 5-minute high-definition film on Vermeer's painting A Lady Writing, which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

The Vermeer film is one of a series of productions commissioned by the Gallery, which are short evocative single object-focused films designed to inspire and captivate visitors who arrive at the Gallery's information room. The film on A Lady Writing will immerse the viewer in the spirit, mood and context of the painting, sharing both its immanent and transcendent qualities. It will explore Vermeer as a painter of light, as high definition details of the painting are interwoven with visually poetic imagery shot in Delft. The film will explore the effects of natural light: how light passes through windows, how light falls on and reveals objects, how the quality of light can create soft diffused appearances of surfaces and contours, and the play of highlights on particular surfaces. The viewer will experience the light of Delft. This is the light that illuminated Vermeer's world. It is the light that he depicted, the light that illuminated the objects he painted, and at the same time the light in which he created paintings in his studio. The HD imagery of Delft will be interwoven with high definition images of the painting that reveal the way in which Vermeer uses light to accentuate certain details, express the essence of various forms, and Vermeer's characteristic painting technique that creates surfaces and contours with a soft diffused appearance and a unique luminosity.

The film will have no words, but will have a soundtrack composed of subtle sound effects and possibly music.

Ms. Glintenkamp produced a CD-ROM on Vermeer for the National Gallery, Washington and The Mauritshuis in The Hague in 1996. This CD-ROM was created in association with the major Vermeer exhibition of that year. It was voted best fine art CD-ROM of the year by CD-ROM TODAY magazine.

Established in 1990, Sandpail Productions is one of the only companies in America to work predominantly in the production of media for museums and cultural institutions. The videos, interactive media and audio programs the company has produced have won major awards at The Birmingham International Educational Film Festival, The International Cindy Awards, The International Communicator Awards, and other competitions. Sandpail's clients include: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lucasfilm, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the National Gallery, Washington, and the Hammer Museum.

The film on Vermeer's A Lady Writing is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2009, and will premiere at the National Gallery of Art as part of the launch of the new West Building Information Room.

For more information, contact Pamela Glintenkamp:


After the World Premiere of the stage play Girl with a Pearl Earring by Shelagh Stevenson, based on the best-selling novel by Tracey Chevalier, on 20th September 2008 in the Cambridge Arts Theatre, the play moved to London's West End, Theatre Royal Haymarket. The premiere took place on 29th September (after a preview on 24th Sept.). The production will run only until 18th October 2008, so immediate booking is highly recommended.

Johannes Vermeer (Adrian Dunbar—Hear My Song, The Crying Game, My Left Foot) is the greatest painter of his time. When he hires a young girl, Griet (Kimberley NixonHearSophy in BBC's Cranford) to help in his house, it is not long before she becomes more than a servant: she starts to help him in his studio, learning the art of painting by watching the master. And then, secretly, Vermeer begins to paint her and Griet becomes model and muse for his greatest masterpiece: Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Theatre Royal Haymarket, Haymarket, London SW1Y 4HT
10 a.m.–7.30 p.m. Monday to Saturday
No booking fee on tickets bought from the Box Office in person

performance times:
Mon–Sat. 7.30 p.m., Wed. & Sat. 2.30 p.m.
29 September at 7 p.m.

For detailed information please visit the special website of the Theatre Royal Haymarket:

Essential Vermeer Website Additions

Traditional Music in the Time of Vermeer (to be published in late October, check the home page for link)
by Adelheid Rech

One might offhandedly question just why a study of folk music on a Vermeer site? Perhaps too often the sublime order and nitid perfection of the artist's compositions would fool us into forgetting that he was brought up in a tavern, run by his no-frills, hard-working father. Dutch taverns could be places where brawls, business deals, cursing and serious drinking went on from morn till night. A knife was pulled every now and then—(as the saying goes "one hundred Dutchmen, one hundred knives"). But taverns were also a place of harmless entertainment and for our interest, a place to joyfully congregate with plenty of music. Living in a tavern and growing up in the streets Vermeer experienced a big slice of his life that never appear in his paintings, a life of popular religious and secular festivities, riotous gatherings, joyous marriages and solemn processions that marked the passage of the year each with its own music. No, not the music you would expect to issue from any of Vermeer's dreamlike compositions, but straightforward melodies, true "hits" of the moment, infectious tunes which charmed lovers, delighted children and made the grueling toil of daily life a bit more bearable.

This multi-part study explores the fascinating world of hurdy-gurdys, shawns and rommelpots and other instruments you most likely have never heard of. Together with the abundant and finely research background information, you will find a substantial repertoire of images and MP3 sound files which will let you listen to authentic period music played on each different instrument. And I think by comprehending Vermeer's world, we will comprehend his work a bit more as well.

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