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Vermeer Newsletter no. 43

November 2, 2020

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Vermeer's Music Lesson on display at Buckingham Palace for two years

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace
11 December 2020– 31 January 2022
The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London

The Music Lesson, by Johannes Vermeer The Music Lesson
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1662–1664
Oil on canvas, 73.3 x 64.5 cm.
The Royal Collection, The Windsor Castle

This exhibition brings together some of the most important paintings in the Royal Collection from the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace. Usually on public view during the annual Summer Opening of the Palace, the paintings will be shown in The Queen’s Gallery while reservicing works are carried out to protect the historic building for future generations. The Picture Gallery was originally designed by the architect John Nash for George IV to display his collection of Dutch, Flemish and Italian Old Master paintings.

Artists represented in the exhibition include Titian, Guercino, Guido Reni, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens, Jan Steen, Claude, Canaletto and Vermeer with his late-career masterpiece, The Music Lesson.

All events at the Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace will be managed in line with COVID-secure procedures. See the gallery's Welcome Back page for more information.

book tickets here:

Please note that tickets for 2021 will go on sale in November 2020.


Vermeer's Allegory of Faith travels to Australia

European Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
June 12, 2021–October 17, 2021

Allegory of Faith by Johannes Vermeer Allegory of Faith
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1670–1674
Oil on canvas, 114.3 x 88.9 cm.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art will be the exclusive Australian venue for a major exhibition which will feature many of the most important works of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the majority of which rarely leave permanent display in New York. European Masterpieces’ will include portraiture, still-life, landscape and figure studies and will be a must-see for art-lovers and anyone with an interest in history, society or art.

Vermeer's late-career Allegory of Faith will be among the paintings exhibited. Other works include Titian’s Venus and Adonis, Caravaggio’s The Musicia, Rembrandt’s Flora and Vincent van Gogh’s The Flowering Orchard.



Be alone with a Vermeer masterpiece

Alone with Vermeer
Exhibition: 26 September 2020–3 January 2021

The renowned French novelist Marcel Proust visited the Mauritshuis in 1902 and was deeply impressed by Vermeer’s masterpiece, View of Delft. Many years later he wrote in a letter: "From the moment that I saw View of Delft in the museum in The Hague, I knew that I had seen the most beautiful painting in the world."

This exhibition consists solely of the View of Delft. During a pre-booked slot, visitors will have the opportunity–either alone or in a very small group–to experience in silence the effect that this very special artwork has on them. An ideal viewing experience is being created to support this: subtle design, perfect lighting and no external sounds or distractions. Alone with Vermeer. For many this display offers the opportunity to (re)discover their favorite painting, with which they sometimes already have a strong bond, in a unique environment.

find more information and book your time slot alone with View of Delft via the museum website:


"Minor" Dutch painter reevaluated

Who was Jacobus Vrel? Looking for Clues of an Enigmatic Painter
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
October 19, 2021– January 23 , 2022
(The exhibition, which was to open in 2020)

A Woman at a Window Waving at a Child, Jacobus Vrel A Woman at a Window Waving at a Child
Jacobus Vrel
c. 1650
Oil on panel, 45.7 x 39.2 cm.
Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection, Paris

Together with the Fondation Custodia in Paris and the Mauritshuis in The Hague, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich is staging the first monographic exhibition on the mysterious painter Jacobus Vrel and, with 35 paintings by Vrel, focuses on this harbinger of modernism whose secret is only revealed at second glance. The new findings of the international project do away with the preconceived notion of a "Vermeer du pauvre"—the poor-man’s Vermeer—and show that Vrel is to be seen much more as a precursor of Pieter de Hooch and Vermeer and not as their successor.

Jacobus Vrel’s works seemingly reflect everyday life in a small Dutch town in the 17th century while creating enigmatic worlds at the same time in which the viewer is not addressed in any way at all. The figures turn away from us, show only their backs or appear lost in thought. The depictions even exude, in part, an oppressive stillness. Not without reason a close affinity to the well-known Dane Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916) has repeatedly been construed, whose atmospheric compositions, however, were created two centuries later.

Equally unusual are Vrel’s street scenes. The spatial arrangement of the buildings shown is reminiscent of film or theater sets. It is difficult to find comparable examples from the painter’s own time. There are neither plausible paradigms nor are there any clear similarities to the works of better-known fellow artists. Always in vertical format, the compositions show multi-storeyed but slender brick houses, mostly with pointed gabled roofs, lined up close to one another. Only a few figures populate the narrow alleyways paved with cobblestones. Are these real places that Vrel has rendered here or are they the painter’s invention, bearing no semblance to his immediate surroundings?


related publication:
A comprehensive monograph with a catalogue of all the artist’s works will be published in German, English and French to accompany the exhibition.

all venues:
Alte Pinakothek, Munich (13 October 2020–10 January 2021)
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris (29 January–18 April 2021)
Mauritshuis, The Hague (20 May–29 August 2021)


New book on Vermeer thief

The Woman Who Stole Vermeer: The True Story of Rose Dugdale and the Russborough House Art Heist
available at Amazon.com: November 10, 2020
by Anthony M. Amore

The Woman w WHo Stole vermeer The Woman Who Stole Vermeer: The True Story of Rose Dugdale and the Russborough House Art Heist

The extraordinary life and crimes of heiress-turned-revolutionary Rose Dugdale, who in 1974 became the only woman to pull off a major art heist.

In the world of crime, there exists an unusual commonality between those who steal art and those who repeatedly kill: they are almost exclusively male. But, as with all things, there is always an outlier—someone who bucks the trend, defying the reliable profiles and leaving investigators and researchers scratching their heads. In the history of major art heists, that outlier is Rose Dugdale.

Dugdale’s life is singularly notorious. Born into extreme wealth, she abandoned her life as an Oxford-trained PhD and heiress to join the cause of Irish Republicanism. While on the surface she appears to be the British version of Patricia Hearst, she is anything but.

Dugdale ran head-first towards the action, spearheading the first aerial terrorist attack in British history and pulling off the biggest art theft of her time. In 1974, she led a gang into the opulent Russborough House in Ireland and made off with millions in prized paintings, including works by Goya, Gainsborough, and Rubens, as well as Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid by the mysterious master Johannes Vermeer. Dugdale thus became—to this day—the only woman to pull off a major art heist. And as Anthony Amore explores in The Woman Who Stole Vermeer, it’s likely that this was not her only such heist.

The Woman Who Stole Vermeer is Rose Dugdale’s story, from her idyllic upbringing in Devonshire and her presentation to Elizabeth II as a debutante to her university years and her eventual radical lifestyle. Her life of crime and activism is at turns unbelievable and awe-inspiring, and sure to engross readers.


Vermeer-related talk by David G. Stork

David Stork David Stork

David G. Stork, PhD Lecturer, Department of Computer Science, Stanford University, special online LASER Talk at the UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences entitled "Did Tim paint a Vermeer?"
lecture given: October 13, 2020



Vermeer's The Concert to be recovered?


Billion Dollar Art Hunt The Billion Dollar Art Hunt

On October 19, the BBC Four broadcasted a documentary called The Billion Dollar Art Hunt.

As most of us will remember, on 18 March 1990, $1bn-worth of paintings were stolen from the walls of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum including Vermeer's The Concert. 29 years later, journalist John Wilson received a tipoff that the works were about to be recovered —not in Boston, as the FBI had assumed, but in west Dublin.

Wilson’s source is Charley Hill, a former detective in the Metropolitan Police Art Squad with a record of recovering famous paintings estimated at $100 million, including Munch’s The Scream and a Vermeer stolen from an Irish stately home. Hill, works privately now but is convinced that his intelligence about the Boston art theft is solid. A notorious Dublin gangster, Martin "The Viper " Foley, who was cultivated by Hill for years says he knows where the art can be found and wants to claim the $10 million reward. Foley is currently on he run but is 99% sure of the painting’s location.

The documentary recounts Wilson’s investigative journey into the hidden economy.


EV article on the maps in Vermeer's paintings

Vermeer's Maps
curated by Jonathan Janson

In half a dozen of Vermeer's paintings, 5 maps can be seen hanging on the white-washed walls of his interior (another map, a large wall map, had originally been included Woman with a Pearl Necklace but was subsequently eliminated by the artist). Other than being interesting compositional elements and a technical challenge of the first order, maps provided Vermeer and many other Dutch painters a type of theoretical window to the greater world outside of the quiet intimacy of household environment.

This lushly illustrated article provides historic information about each of the maps as well as an technical analysis of how they were painted.

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter Woman in Blue Reading a Letter
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1662–1665
Oil on canvas, 46.5 x 39 cm.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


Historical Maps of Delft (expanded)


This illustrated article, which has been recently significantly expanded, provides an overview of surviving maps of Vermeer's birthplace, Delft, that range from 1536 to 1706.

Map of Delft Map of Delft from: Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Liber tertius
Georg Braun & Joris Hoefnagel
Date of the first edition: 1558
Copper engraving, 35.5 x 48.5 cm.


Essential Vermeer Surveys

The Essential Vermeer website has just added 5 Vermeer-related surveys which allow readers to express their opinions on a number of important topics. The surveys include the following questions:

1. Which is your favorite painting by Vermeer?

2. Do you believe the St. Praxedis is an authentic painting by Vermeer?

3. Do you believe that A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals of the Leiden Collection is an authentic painting by Vermeer

4. What are your feelings about the current restoration of Vermeer's Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window?

5. Is it appropriate for art institutions to sell kitch art-related objects in their museum shops?

6. Do you believe that Vermeer used a a camera obscura as an aid to his painting?


Essential Vermeer goes full social

After a positive experience with Facebook, Essential Vermeer website widens its social exposure with Twitter and Instagram. Twitter will allow the website's author keep readers abreast day by day of Vermeer and Essential Vermeer-related developments. Instagram will allow the author to widen the scope of visual imagery outside Vermeer and Dutch 17th-century painting.

Twitter: Johannes Vermeer 365 days a year

Instagram: Johannes Vermeer...but not only

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