Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 4

April 11, 2003

Essential Vermeer Website Additions

An Interview with Robert D. Huerta author of: Giants of Delft. Johannes Vermeer and the Natural Philosophers: The Parallel Search for Knowledge during the Age of Discovery
2003

I am very happy to add an interview with Mr. Robert D. Huerta, the author of Giants of Delft. Johannes Vermeer and the Natural Philosophers: The Parallel Search for Knowledge during the Age of Discovery which will be published this month by the Bucknell University Press. The interview explores the genesis of Mr. Huerta's work as well as some of the consequences it may have on our view of Vermeer's art. "In this interdisciplinary work, Mr. Huerta points out that the conceptual and methodological links between the Vermeer and his near neighbor and exact contemporary, the microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, broadening his study to consider the connections between painting and science during the seventeenth century. Huerta argues that Vermeer's use of the camera obscura parallels van Leeuwenhoek's pursuit of the "optical way," and embodies a profound philosophical connection between these investigators. Vermeer's informed observations enabled him to confront the same issues as other natural philosophers regarding the interpretation of unfamiliar images presented by instrumental systems (viz, the telescope, microscope, camera obscura). Giants of Delft is poised to expand contemporary understandings of Vermeer's methods and purpose, enlarging an appreciation of his art." *

This interview was conducted by Jon Boone who has collaborated with me on Essential Vermeer and has written a number of excellent essays for it including Vermeer's Hands and Missing Vermeer's. Jon's newest contribution is mentioned below.

Mr. Huerta's interview can be accessed from the home page or by clicking here.

Timeline of Dutch Painters of the Golden Age

A graphic time line of the most noted masters of the Golden Age of Dutch painting. Works of each of the artists can be accessed by clicking on their names. The essay can be accessed from the home page of the Essential Vermeer or by clicking on this link.

Vermeer's Art of Seduction: The Girl with a Pearl Earring
A Six Part Essay by Jon Boone

I am very glad to present another thoughtful essay by Jon Boone entitled "Vermeer's Art of Seduction: The Girl with a Pearl Earring." It explores many facets of one of Vermeer's most allusive works. Among other topics, the painting's history, date, style, and the girl's identity are discussed with great clarity. The essay culminates in a suggestive interpretation of the work as a "visual essay" on "the art of seduction." Jon has made a number of significant contributions to the Essential Vermeer including "Missing Vermeer's," "Saint Praxedis: Missing the Mark" and " Vermeer's Hands." His latest essay can be accessed from the Essential Vermeer home page or by clicking here.

The Van Meegeren Case

The 1947 trial of the Dutch forger Han van Meegeren is probably the single most intriguing case of its kind in twentieth century. Van Meegeren's Vermeer forgeries were accepted as authentic, bought at very high prices by an unsuspecting public and highly praised by some of the era's most the most authoritative experts on Dutch painting of the time. The effects of this fraud on the reputation of Vermeer scholarship throughout the world were felt for many years - for art historians, connoisseurs, museum directors and unscrupulous dealers all had been involved in this international scandal. This page can be accessed from the home page of the Essential Vermeer or by clicking here.

Exhibitions

Johannes Vermeer's The Geographer: The Science of the Artist
curated by Dr. Thorsten Smidt
Gemaldergalerie Alte Meister, Kassel, Germany
Feb. 14 - May 11, 2003

Opening times: Tuesday until Sunday 10 - 17 o'clock

Vermeer's Geographer is the focal point of the current exhibition, which deals with way in which artists used science to help create their paintings. One of the principal questions of the exhibit is whether Vermeer used the camera obscura (a kind of precursor to the modern photographic camera) or not to create his extremely subtle compositions and registering as he did with such uncanny fidelity the natural play of light so fundamental to his art. A fully functioning camera obscura is on display to give visitors an opportunity to directly observe the visual effect it produces. Historical sketches of camera obscura are also on display. More than twenty works of by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artists - Durer, Rembrandt, David Teniers, Gerard Dou and Frans van Mieris - were borrowed from other German museums each showing representations of science.

The catalogue (in German only, 10 Euros ) was written by Dr. Thorsten Smidt. It is richly illustrated with every work in the exhibit, and is on sale at the museum.

Vermeer and the Dutch Interior
curated by Alejandro Vergara
The Prado, Madrid
Feb. 19 - 18 May, 2003

This exceptional exhibit showcases 41 Dutch seventeenth-century Dutch interior paintings (including nine Vermeer's) has been already announced in the past Vermeer newsletters. For detailed information, see the page devoted entirely to the exhibit with nine Vermeer's at the following link: http://essentialvermeer.com/vermeer_and_the_dutch_interior.htm or by accessing the Prado's web site at: http://museoprado.mcu.es/prado/html/exposiciones/html/i_vermeer/

Resources

Vermeer y el Interior Holandès
by Alejandro Vergara (with the collaboration of Mariet Westermann)

The catalogue of the Vermeer and the Dutch Interior exhibition (Madrid, Feb. 19 - May 18) is an excellent companion to this splendid exhibition of 41 Dutch seventeenth-c. interiors - including 9 Vermeer's - especially because of the two very illuminating essays. The first, "Vermeer: Context and Uniqueness Dutch Paintings of Domestic Interiors, 1650–1675," by Alejandro Vergara, curator of the exhibition, examines the close relationships between a number of Dutch painters including Vermeer who had worked around the innovative theme of the burgeoning Dutch middle-class home interiors. The second essay, Vermeer and the Interior Imagination, by Mariët Westermann, carefully analyses Vermeer's patronage and the role that and the use of the camera obscura may have had in the expressive content of his art. Perhaps the most illuminating section of Westermann's excellent exegesis may be found in "Vermeer and the Self-Aware Interior." Here, Westermann states: "In seventeenth-century culture, silent reading, perhaps the most introspective of activities alongside private prayer, was a potent figure for thought and self-consciousness." Vermeer's "introspective spaces" are conveyed "not merely by the theme of writing and reading or by averted gazes" but through Vermeer's thoughtful compositions which "stand for the mental activities of the actors."

All the works of the exhibition are illustrated in state-of-the-art color. The text (259 pages) is in both Spanish and English.

The following two Internet resources were kindly brought to my attention by Kees Kaldenbach, Dutch independent art historian and author of some of the most significant web studies on the internet. (Do not miss his latest effort: A Vermeer Virtual House http://www.xs4all.nl/~kalden/)

CODART http://www.codart.nl/

This indispensable site contains resources, museums, exhibitions and curators all associated with Dutch and Flemish art throughout the world. A newsletter provides timely information about related exhibitions.

All the Paintings of the Rijksmuseum are now online a
http://token.rijksmuseum.nl/

Presenting over 5000 paintings, this web version has a fine query function and it is a true digital gold mine both for text and for high quality color images. This stunning site is available for free of charge. The text presentation and query frames are in the Dutch language but only for the time being. This, however, should however not deter you. Please click on Zoeken=Search. Then the query frame opens. For finding information about any artist just fill in the artist's name in the box labeled Vervaardiger=Artist.

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