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Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 33

February 1, 2015

Essential Vermeer Newsletters

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Dear Subscriber,

Here I am—again—excusing myself for having made you wait so long for the latest Vermeer Newsletter.

I really don't have a very good excuse except for the fact that I have been nine months buried in a re-edit of my book on how Vermeer actually painted. But that's a painter gets when he tries to write about the painting technique of one of the greatest technicians of all times. Mind you, painting technique is not rocket science, but it is devilishly complicated in its own way, and Vermeer, as you would expect, finds very good ways to keep you guessing.

What's important though, is the Vermeer news I have been able to gather for you. There are lots exhibitions, seven publications, four lectures, two films and a curious piece of news.

Please don't hesitate to send me your thoughts or suggestions. That's one of the reasons why the site continues to grow.

Best of all,
Jonathan Janson

click here to access this newsletter as a WORD Document.

Please remember the Essential Vermeer when you change your email address!

I N B R I E F:

added January 8 - Vermeer expert Walter Liedtke dies in tragic train crash

e x h i b i t i o n s:
1. Exhibition of Three Vermeer Paintings in Budapest (The Astronomer, The Geographer and The Allegory of Faith.)
2. Vermeer's Woman in Blue Reading a Letter is a surprise guest for Minneapolis Institute of Arts' centennial celebration
3. Vermeer's Christ in the House of Martha and Mary goes on world tour
4. Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, Boston
5. Vermeer's Astronomer travels to Tokyo

p u b l i c a t i o n s:
6. Vermeer (Art and Ideas) by Wayne Franits
7. "Most rare workmen': optical practitioners in early seventeenth-century Delft"
by Huib J. Zuidervaart and Marlise Rijks

8. Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing by Laura J. Snyder
9. Holland's Golden Age in America: Collecting the Art of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals by Esmée Quodbach
10. Vermeer-inspired poetry, Vermeer in Hell by Michael White
11. Vermeer-inspired novel, Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir by Michael White
12. The Stream And The Torrent: The Curious Case Of Jan Torrentius And The Followers Of The Rosy Cross by Brian Howell

l e c t u r e s :
13. Vermeer-related lecture - Vermeer's Camera and Tim's Vermeer, by Philip Steadman, March 5
14. Milton Esterow: Rediscoveries in Art, Milton Esterow, March 25

m u l t i - m e d i a:
15. Vermeer-related film, Tim's Vermeer
16. Girl with a Pearl Earring film, in cinemas from 13 January

in t h e n e w s:
17. Saint Praxedis sold for $10,687,160


Wlater Liedtke

Walter Liedtke, Curator of Metropolitan Museum of Art and renowned Vermeer expert as well as one of the most distinguished scholars of Dutch and Flemish painting in the world, died in the train incident outside New York on the evening of February 3. Mr. Liedtke was returning to his home in Bedford Hills, where he lived with his wife, Nancy. As was his habit, he was riding the front "quiet car," in which he found the tranquility necessary for writing and reading. Five other people died in the accident.

Mr. Liedtke conjugated culture, curiosity, passion and rigor in whatever he wrote and in all the exhibitions he curated, whether it be the monumental "Vermeer and the Delft School" or the intimately scaled "Vermeer's Masterpiece: 'The Milkmaid,'" both held at the MET. The catalogue of the former remains a fundamental contribution to the proper contextualization of the artist. His monograph ("Vermeer: The Complete Paintings ") constitutes a finely nuanced reading of the artist's unique accomplishments in the light of modern Vermeer scholarship. But Mr. Liedtke's interest in things Vermeer was wide and varied enough to comprise a computerized analysis of the weave of the artist's canvases or the opinions from practicing artists and art lovers outside of the art institutional setting.

Mr. Liedtke's energy, brilliance and organizational capacity allowed him to publish extensively and curate a number of key exhibitions at the Metropolitan.

His most important publications include Vermeer: The Complete Paintings (2008), Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2001), Vermeer and the Delft School (1995), Rembrandt/not Rembrandt in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Aspects of Connoisseurship (1992) and Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1982).

remembering Walter:

The young Walter Liedtke
—Garry Schwartz

Walter Liedtke: A Reflection and Appreciation
—Arthur K. wheelock Jr.

Walter Liedtke, Our Friend and Distinguished Colleague (1945–2015)
—Thomas P. Campbell

Walter Liedtke, Curator at Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dies at 69
—Randy Kennedy

video testimonies:
Mr. Liedtke's Metropolitan presentation, Connections/Living with Vermeer:

Youtube video Mr. Liedtke's discussion of Rembrandt's Aristotle and Bust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2dCeTPDEKY

See Mr. Liedtke's Metropolitan presentation, Connections/Living with Vermeer:

See a Youtube video Mr. Liedtke's discussion of Rembrandt's Aristotle and Bust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2dCeTPDEKY

The Astronomer, Johannes Vermeer

31 October, 2014–15 February, 2015
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

Rembrandt and the Painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a large-scale exhibition to run in the Museum of Fine Arts from 1 November surveys the period of seventeenth-century Dutch art, one of the golden ages of European culture. The exhibition is built around Rembrandt, the greatest master of the period, by whom 20 masterpieces will be on display. The exhibition will showcase over 170 works by some 100 painters, of which 40 originate from the Museum of Fine Arts' rich Dutch collection and 130 paintings will be contributed by private and public collections, with the most important loaning institutions including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Museum in Stockholm, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan in New York, the Uffizi in Florence and the Prado in Madrid. A further sensation of the exhibition is that in addition to the significant number of works by Rembrandt—including the painting known as his earliest and his last self-portrait.

Visitors can also view three works by Vermeer: The Astronomer, The Geographer and The Allegory of Faith.

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer

January 16-May 3, 2015
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Cargill Gallery)
Minneapolis, Minn.
price:free of charge

from museum website:
For its 100th Birthday Year, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts plans a year's worth of surprises - 52 of them, to be exact. Starting at 10:00 a.m. May 3, visitors may visit free of charge the museum and see one of Vermeer's finest works, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, in an unannounced exhibition, loaned from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The painting is the first of three promised masterpieces on loan that the MIA will unveil at unannounced times throughout its centennial year. It is the second Vermeer shown at the institute in the past six years. The Astronomer was in a 2009 show of paintings on loan from the Louvre.

"On Vermeer's Woman Reading a Letter: A Q&A with MIA's Patrick Noon"
by Pamela Espeland

lecture two:
Lawrence Weschler | "Posers: Marvel, Majesty and Sovereignty among the Habsburgs and in Vermeer"
Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm

With one of the world's finest Vermeer paintings presently residing at the MIA alongside a magnificent exhibition of Habsburg splendors, Lawrence Weschler will unpack a posit about posing and the posed. Kings, queens, noblemen and noblewomen are continually striking a pose, but who exactly is posing whom (and what?) when a painter attempts to capture that stance? And what was Vermeer up to when he set about capturing something altogether new and different in his portraits? In other words, what does it mean to be sovereign—sovereign over what, in whose eyes, and to what end?

Lawrence Weschler is director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and author of such books as Vermeer in Bosnia and Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder.

$10; $5 MIA members; free for Paintings Affinity Group members. To register, call (612) 870-6323 or reserve online.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary will form part of a touring exhibition of America and Australia which will return to the Scottish National Gallery in February of 2016.

Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland
de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco
March 7-May 31, 2015

Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth Texas
June 28-September 20, 2015

The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Exact dates to be confirmed but approximately late-October 2015 to mid-January 2016

The Astronomer, bt Johannes Vermeer

February 21–June 1, 2015
The National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan

from the museum website:
Genre painting refers to works that deal with the subject of everyday life. This exhibition, made up of 83 works that were carefully selected from the Musée du Louvre's massive collection, traces the development of genre painting across four centuries, from the Renaissance to the mid-nineteenth century.

In addition to Vermeer's The Astronomer, which will be shown in Japan for the first time, the exhibition presents works by prominent painters from every era and region including Titian, Rembrandt, Murillo, Watteau, Chardin and Millet, allowing viewers to enjoy the diverse charms of genre painting.

A Lady Writng, Johannes Vermeer

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Ann and Graham Gund Gallery)
11 October, 2015–18 January, 2016
exhibition curators - Ronni Baer and William and Ann Elfers

from the museum website:
Organized by the MFA, this groundbreaking exhibition proposes a new approach to the understanding of seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Included are 75 carefully selected and beautifully preserved portraits, genre scenes, landscapes and seascapes borrowed from European and American public and private collections—including masterpieces never before seen in the US. The show will reflect, for the first time, the ways in which art signals the socioeconomic groups of the new Dutch Republic, from the Princes of Orange to the most indigent of citizens. Class distinctions had meaning and were expressed in the type of work depicted (or the lack thereof), the costumes, a figure's comportment and behavior, or his physical environment. Arranged according to seventeenth-century ideas about social stratification, paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu, will be divided into three classes—upper, middle and lower—and further sub-divided into eight categories. A final section will explore the places where the classes in Dutch society met one another. Additionally, 45 works of decorative arts—objects used by each class but diverging in material and decoration (for example, salt cellars, candlesticks, mustard pots, linens)—will be installed in three table settings to highlight material differences among the classes.

On exhibition will be two splendid Vermeer paintings, A Lady Writing and The Astronomer.

The accompanying publication features essays by a team of distinguished Dutch scholars and exhibition curator Ronni Baer, the MFA's William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of Paintings.

Vermeer, Wayne Franits

by Wayne Franits
March 23, 2015

In this new monograph, the latest in Phaidon's Art and Ideas series, Wayne Franits examines the work of Vermeer within the framework of his times, one of the most intellectually creative periods in this history of art. Written in a lively and accessible style, and incorporating the latest scholarship on the artist, Franits provides fresh insights into many of Vermeer's most famous works, uncovering the creative process behind them and their wealth of meanings. All paintings by Vermeer are illustrated.

about the author:
Wayne Franits, a specialist in seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art, is Professor of Art History at Syracuse University, New York. His numerous publications have explored a variety of topics within the field, ranging from genre painting and portraiture to the work of the Dutch followers of Caravaggio.

Huib J. Zuidervaart and Marlise Rijks
The British Journal for the History of Science, pp. 1–33, (March 2014)

online article can be accessed at:

A special interest in optics among various seventeenth-century painters living in the Dutch city of Delft has intrigued historians, including art historians, for a long time. Equally, the impressive career of the Delft microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek has been studied by many historians of science. However, it has never been investigated who, at that time, had access to the mathematical and optical knowledge necessary for the impressive achievements of these Delft practitioners. We have tried to gain insight into Delft as a 'node' of optical knowledge by following the careers of three minor local figures in early seventeenth-century Delft. We argue that through their work, products, discussions in the vernacular and exchange of skills, rather than via learned publications, these practitioners constituted a foundation on which the later scientific and artistic achievements of other Delft citizens were built. Our Delft case demonstrates that these practitioners were not simple and isolated craftsmen; rather they were crucial components in a network of scholars, savants, painters and rich virtuosi. Decades before Vermeer made his masterworks, or Van Leeuwenhoek started his famous microscopic investigations, the intellectual atmosphere and artisanal knowledge in this city centered on optical topics.

Especially of interest is the authors' tie between three optical practitioners who lived in Delft simultaneously with Vermeer. One of them, Jacob Spoors, was in 1674 the notary of Vermeer and his mother-in-law Maria Thins, Vermeer's mother-in-law.. Another was an acquaintance of Spoors, the military engineer Johan van der Wyck, who made an optical device in Delft in 1654, most likely a camera obscura. A report about the demonstration in nearby The Hague has been preserved. Van der Wyck also made telescopes and microscopes and an apparatus that probably was a kind of perspective box. As a telescope maker he was preceded by Evert Harmansz Steenwyck, brother-in- law of the Leiden painter David Bailly and father of two Delft still-life painters: Harman and Pieter Steenwyck. The latter was familiar with Vermeer's father Reynier Jansz Vermeer, at a time when the young Vermeer was still living with his parents. According to the authors, this is the first real archival evidence that such a device existed in Delft during Vermeer's life.


The Eye of the Beholder,Laura J. Synder

March 16, 2015
by Laura J. Snyder

from the publisher's website:
In Eye of the Beholder, Laura J. Snyder transports us to the streets, inns and guildhalls of seventeenth-century Holland, where artists and scientists gathered, and to their studios and laboratories, where they mixed paints and prepared canvases, ground and polished lenses, examined and dissected insects and other animals, and invented the modern notion of seeing. With charm and narrative flair Snyder brings Vermeer and Van Leeuwenhoek—and the men and women around them—vividly to life. The story of these two geniuses and the transformation they engendered shows us why we see the world—and our place within it—as we do today.

"Laura Snyder is both a masterly scholar and a powerful storyteller. In Eye of the Beholder, she transports us to the wonder-age of seventeenth-century Holland, as new discoveries in optics were shaping the two great geniuses of Delft—Vermeer and van Leeuwenhoek—and changing the course of art and science forever. A fabulous book."
Oliver Sacks

"Eye of the Beholder is a thoughtful elaboration of the modern notion of seeing. Laura J. Snyder delves into the seventeenth century fascination with the tools of art and science, and shows how they came together to help us make sense of what is right in front of our eyes."
Russell Shorto, author of Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City

Holland's Golden Age in America: Collecting the Art of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, by Esmée Quodbach

by Esmée Quodbached
New York (The Frick Collection) and University Park (The Pennsylvania State University Press) 2014

from the Pennsylvania State University Press website:
Americans have long had a taste for the art and culture of Holland's Golden Age. As a result, the United States can boast extraordinary holdings of Dutch paintings. Celebrated masters such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, and Frans Hals are exceptionally well represented, but many fine paintings by their contemporaries can be found as well. In this groundbreaking volume, fourteen noted American and Dutch scholars examine the allure of seventeenth-century Dutch painting to Americans over the past centuries. The authors of Holland's Golden Age in America explain in lively detail why and how American collectors as well as museums turned to the Dutch masters to enrich their collections. They examine the role played by Dutch settlers in colonial America and their descendants, the evolution of American appreciation of the Dutch school, the circumstances that led to the Dutch school swiftly becoming one of the most coveted national schools of painting, and, finally, the market for Dutch pictures today. Richly illustrated, this volume is an invaluable contribution to the scholarship on the collecting history of Dutch art in America, and it is certain to inspire further research.

In addition to the editor, the contributors are Ronni Baer, Quentin Buvelot, Lloyd DeWitt, Peter Hecht, Lance Humphries, Walter Liedtke, Louisa Wood Ruby, Catherine B. Scallen, Annette Stott, Peter C. Sutton, Dennis P. Weller, Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., and Anne T. Woollett.

This book provides answers for anyone who has ever wondered why there are so many great Dutch paintings in U.S. collections. Essays by leading curators and scholars draw on the history of art, as well as an understanding of cultural, economic and political conditions, to illuminate the American taste for seventeenth-century Dutch painting.
Emilie Gordenker, Director, Mauritshuis, The Hague

Drawing on the experience and insights of many of her colleagues in museums and the academy, Esmée Quodbach brings us an impressively broad overview of the early collectors of Dutch art in America. This essential volume provides illuminating context for major figures such as J. P. Morgan and welcomes unsung heroes such as Robert Gilmor, Jr., onto this stage, but also lifts the curtain on early colonial as well as contemporary collections. These varied accounts are spiked with color, drama and highlights, including the story of the wealthy collector who has to ask, "Who is Vermeer?"
David de Witt, Bader Curator of European Art, Queen's University

Esmée Quodbach is Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Collecting at The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library in New York.

The Stream and the Torrent - The Curious Case of jan Torrentius and the Followers of the Rosy, by Brian Howell

by Brian Howell
Limited to 82 numbered copies

"Having been rescued from prison and torture in Haarlem, as of 1632 Torrentius is confined to a secret chamber in White Hall to be the King's painter. He is not allowed to go out except at night and the early morning and must show a special pass to the guards. After making the acquaintance of a fellow Dutch painter one morning, Simon, he visits him and his wife, who reminds him of one of his many amours in Holland. Later, King Charles asks him to do a portrait of himself and his wife."

So begins a fascinating novel of history, magic and moral terror. A grand oeuvre in the tradition of Leo Perutz."

Vermeer in Hell, by Michael White

by Michael White

from publisher's website:
Through the paintings of Vermeer, Michael White explores new landscapes and transforms familiar ones in this extraordinary new collection of poems. This captivating masterwork transports us across eras and continents, from Confederate lynchings to the bombing of Dresden, through its lyrical inhabitations of some of Vermeer's most revered paintings, each one magically described and renewed. More than mere ekphrasis, Michael White explores the transformative possibilities of great art in his fourth collection.

"Vermeer in Hell is Michael White's museum of ghosts and shades, of narratives woven masterfully out of the personal and historical alike—out of the lived, the envisioned, the loved, and the terrible. Rarely have I felt the ekphrastic to be as dramatic as in White's tour through the portraits of Vermeer, with its history of fiery damages, wars and afflictions, but also its own depiction of 'love's face as it is.' Out of Michael White's vision, each poem achieves for us the delicacy and durability of Vermeer's own art."
David Baker

"Nearly every one of Michael White's new poems is the equivalent of a quiet stroll through a blazing fire, igniting the reader's imagination. His insights are frightening and comforting at the same time, his craft allowing for the most surprising and thrilling of associations. Vermeer in Hell is a collection that belongs in the room with all of the traditions of our language's poetry, but it brings something completely original to us, too. It is not an overstatement to call this poetry Genius."
Laura Kasischke

"In these elegant, powerful poems, Michael White pays homage to a great painter while engaging social realities that affect us all. They are brave, beautiful poems linked by authentic vision and a sensitive, educated ear."
Sam Hamill

about the author:
Michael White is the author of four collections of poetry and a memoir, Travels in Vermeer (Persea 2015), and has published widely in respected periodicals, including The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Western Humanities Review, and the Best American Poetry. White teaches poetry and is presently chair of the Creative Writing department at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.


Travels in Vermeer, by Michael White

by Michael White

from the publisher's webpage:
In the midst of a bad divorce, the poet Michael White unexpectedly discovers the consoling power of Johannes Vermeer's radiant vision. Over the course of a year, he travels to Amsterdam, The Hague, Delft, Washington D.C., New York, and London to view twenty-four paintings, including nearly all of Vermeer's major work. "A certain chain of events has left me open, on a startlingly deep level, to Vermeer's gaze, to his meditation on our place on earth," White writes.

Part travelogue, part soul-searching investigation into romantic love and intimate discourse on art, this erudite and lyrical memoir encompasses the author's past—his difficult youth, stint in the Navy, alcoholism and the early death of his first wife—and ends with his finding grace and transformation through deeply affecting encounters with the paintings of Vermeer, an artist obsessed with romance and the inner life, who has captivated millions, from the seventeenth century until now.

"All the sorrow of love is compressed into White's memoir. But so, too, is all the consolation of art. Nothing I've read...suggests so eloquently what [Vermeer's paintings] hold for a contemporary viewer…Figures it took a poet to get it this beautifully, thrillingly right."
Peter Trachtenberg

"[Travels in Vermeer] touches on the mysteries of seduction, loss and the artistic impulse. It shows how time can be interrupted."
Clyde Edgerton

"This book is a treasure and a guide. It is a type of healing for the intellect and the heart."
Rebecca Lee

Philip Steadman

Philip Steadman
Darwin Lecture Theatre, Darwin Building, London
5 March, 2015 (13:15-13:55)
price: free
contact: +44 (0)20 3108 3841 | events@ucl.ac.uk

In 2001, Philip Steadman published Vermeer's Camera, a book that offered new evidence that the great Dutch painter relied on optical methods. An American video engineer Tim Jenison read the book and, believing he could take the argument further, proposed a simple arrangement of lens and mirrors that Vermeer might have employed. Jenison used this setup to paint a version of The Music Lesson in the Queen's collection. The process was filmed for the Oscar-shortlisted documentary Tim's Vermeer, released in 2014. Jenison's method throws more light, literally, on how Vermeer could have achieved his distinctively "photographic" tonal effects.

The lecture will be streamed live online and recorded for YouTube or downloaded.

Milton Esterow

Milton Esterow
Wed, Mar 25, 2015, 7 pm
Lexington Avenue at 92nd St
Warburg Lounge
price: from $30.00

from the 92/Y website:
It seems unimaginable now, but the works of Piero della Francesca and Vermeer were forgotten and neglected for longer than they have been admired. No other great painter has been overlooked for such a long time as Botticelli. Hardly anyone paid much attention to Frans Hals and Giotto for many years. Why have tastes in art have been changing since art first came into being? Milton Esterow, former publisher of ARTnews, gives a fascinating perspective.

Can't make it to the event? Leave your questions for our guests below, and they might be used on stage during the Q&A. Keep an eye on 92Y On Demand after the event for any video clips we might share! You might see your question used on stage. http://92yondemand.org/

Tim Jenison

director: Penn Jillette
cast: Penn Jillette, Tim Jenison, Martin Mull, Philip Steadman, David Hockney, Colin Sony Pictures Classics
2013, 80 minutes

In Tim's Vermeer, Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor and giant of video and post-production software for home computers, (Video Toaster, LightWave, TriCaster) attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in European art: How did the seventeenth- century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so realistically—150 years before the invention of photography?

In the search of an answer, Jenison began by working off of the theories set forth in David Hockney's Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters and Philip Steadman's Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces, both of which allege that Vermeer employed an optical device, the camera obscura, as an aid to his painting. Fascinated by the theories of Hockney and Steadman (both outsiders to the art history enclave), Jenison built his own camera obscura but found something was amiss. He immediately came to suspect that not only had Vermeer used some sort of optical device to trace the drawing of his motif onto his canvas (as Steadman had for all practical purposes proved) but must have used it to register the colors and tonal values of his paintings which have been long admired for their uncanny precision, apparently out of reach of his contemporaries.

Tim's VermeerTim's Vermeer

While viewing in person Vermeer's The Music Lesson, perhaps the artist's most "optically based" work, Jenison, a video engineer well versed in analyzing images scientifically, became firmly convinced that the work presents optical information that cannot be gathered by retinal observation. Pondering how Vermeer could have achieved such results, he invented—the idea came to him as he was relaxing in a bath tub—a simple, easy-to-use optical device, whose technology was easily within the reach of the seventeenth-century artist, and painstakingly taught himself to paint with it. The mirror of Jenison's device reflects an object in such a way that a painter can duplicate not only an object's principal contours on canvas but its precise colors and tones. Putting his theory to the ultimate test, Jenison built a perfectly scaled "set" of The Music Lesson in a San Antonio studio and "repainted" Vermeer's picture using the device. After various false starts, Jenison learned how to handle the device with greater efficacy, how to hand grind paint and how to domesticate paint and brush, an entirely new experience for the digital engineer. He employed seven months to complete the work, which he claims is easily accurate enough to uphold his hypothesis.

Although Jenison admits that there is no historical evidence that proves his hypothesis, he believes that if his method for transferring form, color and tone form with a mechanical device to a canvas was used by Vermeer, a chapter of art history would have to be revised.

Jenison's friends, the illusionists and professional debunkers Penn & Teller, united with him to fully document his years- long investigation into the mysterious methods of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. The movie includes commentary from Jillett, Hockney and Steadman. Speaking of the film, Hockney said, "It might disturb quite a lot of people," since it forces you to question everything that you thought you knew about great art and the people responsible for it. But, as Jillette points out, "it doesn't argue that they weren't geniuses; it just shows that they were fathomable geniuses, rather than unfathomable ones."

blog article:
Essential Vermeer Time post with debate (with 500+ comments)

video interview:
Hear his Jenison's on Vermeer at 34:35 minutes into the video.

another YouTube interview with Jenison, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfsbSK0WPqU

Variety - "Penn and Teller's uncanny crowdpleaser begs the question, is it still a masterpiece if an amateur could do it?" - Peter Debruge


in cinemas from 13 January

from Exhibition on Screen' website:
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is one of the most enduring paintings in the history of art. Even today, its recent world tour garnered huge queues lining up for the briefest glimpse of its majestic beauty—In Japan 1.2 million people saw the exhibition. Yet the painting itself is surrounded in mystery. This beautifully filmed new documentary seeks to investigate the many unanswered questions associated with this extraordinary piece. Who was this girl? Why and how was it painted? Why is it so revered?

After its world tour, the Girl with a Pearl Earring returned to the much-loved Mauritshuis in The Hague, Netherlands, which has just completed extensive renovations. Enjoying unparalleled exclusive access to this historical exhibition, the film takes the audience on a journey as it seeks to answer many of the questions surrounding this enigmatic painting and its mysterious creator, Vermeer. Using the recently completed and highly complex makeover of the museum as its starting point, the film goes on a behind the scenes detective journey to seek out the answers that lie within the other masterpieces housed in the collection.

see Christie's catalogue notes:

Saint Praxedis, Johannes Vermeer?

The London-based auction house Christie's reported via a Twitter feed that the Saint Praxedis (101.6 x 82.6 cm.) was sold on Tuesday, July 8 for $10,687,160 (£6,242,500). This figure barely higher that than the auction house's lowest estimate of $10,284,000 but considerably lower than the upper estimate of $13,712,000. The painting was sold after a few bid presumably to an Asiatic client.

The low price paid for the Saint Praxedis suggests that the results of the scientific analysis were less than convincing and that it was bought in hopes that future critical or scientific investigations will strengthened its attribution.

In 2004, Sotheby's sold the minuscule Woman Seated at the Virginals (25.2 x 20 cm.) for $42 million (£16.2 million) a price five times greater than the auction house's initial estimate. Previous to the two sales, the authorship of both works had been for debated for decades. On occasion of the sales the picture were proposed as authentic Vermeer's largely the basis of scientific analysis spearheaded, in both cases, by the respective auction houses.

Before the painting was sold, Christie's reported that after having examined the picture the conservator Libby Sheldon said that although no firm conclusion about the exact date of the picture's Vermeer signature could be reached, she believed that it is nonetheless "old." In 1998, Jørgen Wadum, then the chief curator of the Mauritshuis, stated that the signature had been added after the painting had been completed. Tests carried out by the Rijksmuseum show that the lead component of the lead white pigment extracted from the picture derives from a northern European source making it improbable that the picture was painted in southern Europe, as some critics had speculated. In addition, Christie's claims that the lead white used to paint the Saint Praxedis is from the same "batch" used to painted the Diana and her Companions, a secure work by Vermeer.

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