Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 24

2009

Exhibitions

VERMEER'S LACEMAKER TRAVELS TO JAPAN
Master Paintings of 17th-Century Europe
The National Museum of Western Art, February– June 14, 2009
7-7 Ueno-koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan

This exhibition features seventeenth-century European painting; but rather than dividing the works by national boundaries, as is customary, these paintings will be divided into three major themes  giving viewers an opportunity to enjoy a lateral cross-comparison of the paintings created in Europe during this period.

from the National Museum website:
http://www.nmwa.go.jp/en/exhibitions/current.html

the NTV website:
http://www.ntv.co.jp/louvre/#/english

YOUNG WOMAN SEATED AT A VIRGINAL RESURFACES AT THE MET
After its zigzag performance, the Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, in recent times reattributed to Vermeer, has bobbed up again in an unexpected place, next to the Woman with a Water Pitcher at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The miniscule work will be on display until mid-July, 2009.

Attentive readers will have noticed that Walter Liedtke has included this unstudied composition into the oeuvre of Vermeer in his recent Vermeer: The Complete Paintings.

VERMEER'S LOVE LETTER VISITS VANCOUVER
Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum
Vancouver Art Gallery
May 9 to September 13, 2009

This exhibition will highlight works of art of the seventeenth-century Dutch painting masters of the Golden Age. It will feature well over 100 works by many of the most celebrated masters of the period such as Aelbert Cuyp, Gerard Dou, Franz Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacob van Ruisdael, Gerrit ter Borch and Johannes Vermeer, as well as an extraordinary selection of decorative arts, including furniture, silver, glassware, porcelain and textiles. This exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum and will include Vermeer's late masterpiece, The Love Letter.

museum web page:
http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/the_exhibitions/exhibit_vermeer_rembrandt_and_the_golden_age_of_dutch_art.html

VERMEER'S WOMAN HOLDING A BALANCE TRAVELS TO AMSTERDAM
11 March to 1 June 2009
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum will temporarily exhibit the Woman Holding a Balance from the Washington National Gallery. Side by side comparison with the other works in the Rijksmuseum's permanent collection should prove illuminating.

Navigators can download a stinking high-resolution image of the painting at:
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/pers/tentoonstellingen/vermeer?lang=en

Essential Vermeer Website Additions

TRADITIONAL MUSIC IN THE TIME OF VERMEER
http://www.essentialvermeer.com/folk_music/folmusic_start.html
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 technical 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 morning till night but they 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, a big slice of the artist's life 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, shawms 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 complicated world, we will be able to comprehend his work a bit more as well.

ESSENTIAL VERMEER INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN LOPEZ, AUTHOR OF THE MAN WHO MADE VERMEERS
 http://www.essentialvermeer.com/interviews_newsletter/lopez_interview.html

Han van Meegeren, the man who made Vermeers for decades, is justifiably the most written-about forger of all times. The most recent and original book on the topic is written by New York art historian Jonathan Lopez. Lopez casts new light on an old story by  fine tuning the results of years of patient research.

Two key points of the book are Van Meegeren's hitherto underplayed Nazi sympathies and the mind set which allowed the greatest forger of all times to dupe the leading art specialists of his time. In order to explain the chasm between today's unanimous view of Van Meegeren's fakes as unsightly imitations and their original enthusiastic reception as true masterworks by Vermeer, Lopez reveals that "a fake doesn't necessarily succeed or fail according to the fidelity with which it replicates the distant past but on the basis of its power to sway the contemporary mind.

Jonathan opened up to an interview in which he explains what went into the book's making and some fascinating side thoughts on Van Meegeren the man, whose brilliant darkness is probably better understood by Lopez than anyone else.

Mulit-Media Events

THE MOTHER-OF-ALL ART PORTALS
Europeana: think culture
http://dev.europeana.eu/

Europe is thinking big and has launched Europeana.eu, a huge digital library inspired by nothing less than the ancient library of Alexandria. Users will have direct access to some 2 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers selected from that which is already digitized and available in Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections.  For Vermeer devotees, there are a few very nice surprises including some excellent images of Vermeer's compositions.

VERMEER ART BLOG
The Flying Fox
http://flyingfox.jonathanjanson.com/

Keep track of Vermeer  and Vermeer-related news in real time.  Among Flying Fox resources are:
a.  the Vermeer tracker which keeps tabs on the travels and whereabouts of every one of the 36 known paintings by Vermeer
b.  real-time Vermeer newsletter
c.  selected art history blogs
d.  comments on recent developments in Vermeer studies

In the News

THE MAN WHO GOT TIRED OF HIS VERMEER

While no one expected Las Vegas resort developer Steve Wynn to hold his Vermeer forever, he seems to have become disenchanted with the thought of being the only private holder of a genuine painting by Johannes Vermeer after only four years. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has it that Wynn recently sold the Young Woman Seated at the Virginals painting purchased four years ago for the sum of $30 million. The identity of the buyer is unknown.

THE PRICE OF FAME
December 5th, 2008

When Johannes Vermeer painted Girl with a Pearl Earring more than 300 years ago, he couldn't have foreseen how his iconic portrait would one day be reproduced - or just how tiny that portrait could be.  How tiny? A University of Montreal researcher has rendered the famous image within a single drop of liquid vitamin on a microscope's glass slide, reducing the portrait's dimensions to a mere 200 microns - about the width of two human hairs.

BILLION EURO SUNKEN DUTCH MASTERPIECES?

In 1771, the schooner Frau Maria sank near Finland while it was transporting treasures for the Hermitage Museum purchased at an auction in Amsterdam for the Russian Empress  Catherine the Great. After its rediscovery in 1991, archival research has turned up papers concerning the auction which reveal that onboard were 27 works by the Dutch painters such as Rembrandt, Hendrick Van Balen, Gerrit Terborch (perhaps Vermeer's most talented colleague) and Jan Van Goyen.

Amazing as it may seem, experts hope the paintings were packed into special lead containers coated with wax for the overseas voyage making it theoretically possible that the canvases might survive in good shape. The Russian imperial riches are said to be the most important underwater discovery ever, presenting unprecedented historical and monetary value. Antiquarians give it the tag of 500 million to 1 billion euros. The Frau Maria will be raised to the surface in 2010 but the issue of ownership contended by Russia and Finland has not been settled as of yet.

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