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Essential Vermeer Newsletter no. 9

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April 2, 2004

In the News

March 30, 2004; Sotheby's announces the sale of a new Vermeer

The Baron Rolin Young Woman at a Virginal, which for decades has not been accepted as part of Vermeer's oeuvre, will be offered for sale at Sotheby's in London this summer as an authentic work by Vermeer. This would make it the first Vermeer at auction in more than 80 years, with a starting price of three million pounds ($5.5 million).

The painting's latest attribution was made after 10 years of meticulous study and testing by a committee comprised of scholars, museum curators, painting conservators, costume experts, paint analysts and auction house experts, namely: Frits Duparc (Director, Mauritshuis, The Hague), Gregory Rubinstein (Sotheby's), Libby Sheldon (University College London Paintings Analysis), Jørgen Wadum (Head of Paintings Conservation, Mauritshuis, The Hague), Arie Wallert (Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), Ernst van der Wetering (Head of Rembrandt Research Project), Marieke de Winkel (Costume Expert, Rembrandt Research Project) and Martin Bijl (former Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

Their findings and conclusions will soon be published in the Dutch scholarly periodical "Oud Holland."

For more information, see:

Sotheby's March 30, 2004 Press Release

For further information see the following online articles:
New York Times

Stolen Vermeer to be Recovered?

One hopes for a break in the yet unresolved case of Vermeer's Concert, which was stolen in 1991, along with other master paintings including works by Rembrandt. The latest tantalizing clue about the theft came as two Polaroid photos in a plain envelope with no return address was mailed to the ABC News office in New York, ABC reported. The pictures appeared to be of a Rembrandt self-portrait no larger than a postage stamp.

On March 17 (Saint Patrick's Day) two thieves dressed as Boston policemen knocked on the door of the Isabella Gardener Museum (Boston), claiming to be investigating a disturbance in the area. The museum guards let them in. The thieves handcuffed the guards and left them in the basement. No weapons were used. According to the FBI, once the guards were sequestered away from a "panic button" near their base, the thieves were free to roam the museum. There were no alarm wires on the paintings, which were uninsured. Among the 12 paintings stolen were Vermeer's Concert, Rembrandt's The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the Dutch master's only known seascape, Lady and Gentleman in Black, and a rare self-portrait.

See these links for more information:

ABC News

Boston Globe

FBI Art Theft Program

Boston Herald.com


"Six Ways to Vermeer"
Radio Netherlands Wereldomoep

(originally broadcast on March 30, 2004)

Chris Chambers looks at six of Vermeer's works to find out more about this elusive Dutch painter, exploring why in the past hundred years his fame has sky-rocketed. Among the commentators are Philip Steadman, Kees Kaldenbach, and Anthony Bailey.

To access the recording of the streaming 29:30 minute audio go to:

Dutch Light
by Pieter-Rim and Maarten de Kroon

Dutch Light is a documentary about the light in Holland. Is it unique, as people say, or is that simply a myth? It's about the light celebrated in paintings—in landscapes by Jan van Goyen and Jacob van Ruisdael, and in interiors and still life's by Johannes Vermeer, Pieter Saenredam and Willem Claesz Heda. It's also in the works of later artists such as Jan Weissenbruch, Willem Roelofs, Paul Gabriël and Piet Mondriaan. The idea that the light is special there goes back a long way, spawning a theory where light and its observation became cornerstones of a visual culture dating back to the seventeenth century. The German artist Joseph Beuys, however, says that culture of observation came to an end in the 1950s.

Dutch Light breaks new ground by exploring the idea and capturing Holland's light in a variety of images. Distinguished artists, art historians and scientists from different countries address the questions raised by Beuys's theory. What is Dutch light? Is it different from light anywhere else in the world? Has it really had a significant impact on art and science? And is it true that it has changed or disappeared? Dutch Light is an extraordinary film about a phenomenon that is as ordinary as it is unique.


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