Dating Vermeer's Paintings

Rediscovery and Oeuvre

The modern study of Vermeer begins with the French art-critic and left-wing politician Thoré-Bürger (Thoré, [Etienne-Joseph-] Théophile, sometimes, Willem Bürger). Thoré devoted twenty years of travel and research, in part as a political exile, establishing "not only the foundation but much of the edifice of our modern understanding of Vermeer."1 In the words of the French critic:

This obsession has caused me considerable expense. To see one picture by van der Meer, I traveled hundreds of miles: to obtain a photograph of another van der Meer, I was madly extravagant. I even retraced my steps all round Germany in order to verify with conviction works dispersed between Cologne, Brunswick, Berlin, Dresden, Pommersfelden, and Vienna. But I was amply recompensed, more especially as I had the pleasure, not only of admiring the works in museums and galleries, but in acquiring more than a dozen, some that I bought for my friends MM. Pereire, Double, Cremer, and others; others that I bought for myself.

A clock in the Frans Hals Museum, Utrecht.
A clock in the Frans Hals Museum, Utrecht

Thoré published the first major study of Vermeer in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts in 1866 under the pseudonym of W. Bürger. All three of the original articles are accessable in PDF at GAZZETTE DES BEAUX ARTS (Oct. 1 - pp. 297-330; Nov. 1 - pp. 458-470; Dec. 1 - pp. 542-575).

Although the Delft master's recovery can only be attributed to Thoré, Vermeer' corpus as we now think of it was nearly established in 1948 by Ary Bob de Vreis.2 The works rejected by de Vreis—Thoré had catalogued about 70 paintings and many false works had invaded the market when Vermeer's fame began to soar —gradually faded from even marginal consideration. In his influential monograph, Vermeer, Lawrence Gowing, "set the example followed by nearly all subsequent scholars by not even listing rejected works, as de Vreis had done..."3

In 1976, the Dutch art historian Albert Blankert cast doubts on four previously accepted works, Girl Interrupted in her Music, Woman with a Lute, Girl with a Red Hat and Girl with a Flute and deleted altogether from consideration the Young Woman Seated at the Virginals (not to be confused with the London, Lady Seated at a Virginal). Nonetheless, all but one of the five paintings rejected by Blankert, the minuscule Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, remained soundly anchored in Vermeer's oeuvre by great part of the art historical community although the Girl with a Flute is still doubted by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

Since 2001, when the Young Woman Seated at the Virginals was shown (not in catalogue) at the Vermeer and the Delft School exhibition in New York and London and soon after auctioned at $33,000,000. The picture is now accepted by the three foremost Vermeer authorities, Walter Liedtke, Wayne Franits and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

Dating

Vermeer's paintings have been considerably vexing to date: only three bear dates; The Procuress, The Geographer and The Astronomer. During a recent examination of The Art of Painting, traces of the date (in Roman numerals) have been discovered and appear to indicate the date 1666.

The table below displays the chronological order of and dates give to Vermeer's paintings by ten authoritative Vermeer scholars.

About the dates given in the Essential Vermeer Interactive Catalogue and the order of the present table of dates
Since only three of Vermeer's paintings were dated by the artist, the dates proposed in the EV catalogue, and which are likewise reflected in the table below, represent a synthesis of those estimated by two contemporary Vermeer scholars: Walter Liedtke and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr..

Sources

  • BÜRGER, Thoré, Van der Meer van Delft, Paris, 1866
  • DE GROOT, Hofstede C., A Catalogue Raisoneé of the works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, vols.10, 1907-1928; Vol.1, "Johannes Vermeer."
  • DE VREIS. A. B., Jan Vermeer van Delft, London / New York (2nd.ed.), 1948.
  • GOWING, Lawrence, Vermeer, London, 1952 and 1970.
  • BLOCK, Vitali, Tutta la pittura de Vermeer di Delft, Milan, 1954.
  • GOLDSCHEIDER, L., Jan Vermeer, London, 1958.
  • BLANKERT, Albert, (with contributions by RUURS, Rob and van de WATERING, Willem), Vermeer, Oxford, 1976.
  • WHEELOCK, Arthur K., author/editor with contrib. by Michiel C. Plomp, Daniëlle H.A.C. Lokin, Quint Gregory, The Public and the Private in the Age of Vermeer, London, 2000.
  • LIEDTKE, Walter, Vermeer: The Complete Catalogue, New York, 2008.
  • FRANITS, Wayne. Vermeer , London, 2015

Notes

  1. The numbers assigned to Vermeer's pictures by Thoré-Bürger were not intended to indicate a chronological order but were nonetheless included in the present table since the Frenchman was the first to compile a catalogue the artist's work. Thoré-Bürger successfully identified 24 authentic paintings by Vermeer (and another 40+ which were rejected by art historians in the following years).
  2. Likewise, the numbers given by Hofstede C. de Groot do not indicate a chronological order in his monumental A Catalogue Raisoneé of the works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century.
  3. Albert Blankert does not support the attribution of four works generally held as authentic Vermeers, Woman with a Lute, Girl Interrupted in her Music, Girl with a Red Hat and Girl with a Flute, labeled respectively as "B1," "B2," "B3" and "B4."
  4. Presently only Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. attributes the Saint Praxedis to Vermeer.

2015 - 1952

TITLE
Franits Liedtke Wheelock Blankert Goldscheider Block Gowing
Saint Praxedis
no.1, 1655
Diana and her Companions c. 1653-1654 no.1, c. 1653-1654 no 3, c. 1655-1656 no.2, 1654-1656 no.2, c. 1655 before 1656 c. 1657-1659
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary c. 1654-1655 no.2, c. 1654-1655 no.2, c. 1654-1655 no., 1, 1654-1656 no.1, c. 1654 before 1656 c. 1657-1659
The Procuress 1656 no.3, 1656 no.4, 1656 no.3, 1656 no.4, 1656 1656 c. 1657-1659
A Maid Asleep c. 1657 no.4, c. 1656-1657 no.5, c. 1657 no.4, 1657 no.3, c. 1656 1655-1660 c. 1657-1659
Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window c. 1657-1658 no.5, c. 1657 no.6, c. 1657 no.6, 1659 no.6, c. 1658 1655-1660 c. 1657-1659
The Little Street c. 1659-1660 no.11, c. 1659-1661 no.7, c. 1657-1658 no.9, 1661 no.7, c. 1659 1665-1660 c. 1657-1659
Officer and Laughing Girl c.1657 no.6, c. 1657 no.8, c. 1658-1660 no.5, 1661 no.5, c. 1657 1657-1660 c. 1657-1659
The Milkmaid c.1658-1659 no.7, c. 1657-1658 no.9, c. 1658-1660 no.7, 1658 no.9, c. 1660 1655-1660 c. 1660-1662
The Glass of Wine c.1659-1660 no.8, c. 1658-1659 no.10, c. 1658-1660

no.8, 1660-1661

no.11, 1660 1655-1660 c. 1660-1662
The Girl with a Wine Glass c. 1661-1662 no.10, c. 1659-1660 no.11, c. 1659-1660 no.11, 1660-1661 no.15, c. 1663 1660 c. 1660-1662
Girl Interrupted in Her Music c. 1658-1659 no.9, c. 1658-1659 no.12, c. 1660-1661 B2., 1662 no.12, 661 1661 c. 1660-1662
View of Delft c. 1660-1661 no.12, c. 1661-1663 no.13, c. 1660-1661 no.10, 1661 no.10, c. 1660 1660-1661 c. 1660-1662
The Music Lesson c. 1662-1665 no.15, c. 1662-1663 no.14, c. 1662-1664 no.16, 1664 no.13, c. 1662 1655-1660 c. 1660-1662
Woman in Blue Reading a Letter c. 1662-1665 no.17, c. 1663-1664 no.15, c. 1663-1664 no.14, 1662-1665 no.17, 1662-1664 1660-1665 c. 1663-1665
Woman Holding a Balance c.1664 no.19, c. 1663-1664 no.16, c. 1664 no.15, 1662-1665 no.21, 1665 1660-1665 c. 1663-1665
Young Woman with a Water Pitcher c. 1662-1665 no.13, 1662 no.17, c. 1664-1665 no.12, 1662 no.16, 1663 1660 c. 1663-1665
Woman with a Lute c. 1662-1665 no.14, c. 1662-1663 no.18, c. 1664 B1 no.19, 1664 1665 c. 1663-1665
Woman with a Pearl Necklace c. 1662-1665 no.18, c. 1663-1664 no.19, c. 1664 no.13, 1662-1665 no.18, 1665 1665 c. 1663-1665
A Lady Writing c. 1662-1665 no.20, c. 1665-1667 no.20, c. 1665

no.20,1666

no.20, 1665 1665 c. 1663-1665
Girl with a Red Hat c. 1666-1667 no.24, c. 1665-1667 no.21, c. 1665-1666 B3 no.25, 1667 1667 c. 1666-1669
Girl with a Flute c. 1665-1668 no.25, c. 1665-1670 no.24, c. 1665-1670 B4 no.26, 1667 1667 c. 1666-1669
The Girl with a Pearl Earring c.1665-1667 no.22, c. 1665-1667 no.22, c. 1665-1666 no.18, 1665 no.23, 1665 1660-1665 c. 1663-1665
The Concert c. 1664-1665 no.16, c. 1663-1666 no.23, c. 1665-1666 no.17, 1664 no.14, 1662 1660 c. 1663-1665
The Art of Painting c. 1667-1668 no.26, c. 1666-1668 no.25, c. 1666-1667 no.18, 1662-1665 no.24, 1666 1665-1670 c. 1663-1665
Study of a Young Woman c. 1657-1658 no.23, c. 1665-1667 no.26, c. 1666-1667 no.30, 1672-1674 no.34, 1671 1660-1670 (?)
Maid and Mistress c. 1667-1668 no.21, c. 1666-1667 no.27, c. 1667 no.21 no.29, 1665 1665-1670 ?
The Astronomer 1668 no.28, 1668 no.28, 1668 no.23, 1668 no.27, 1668 1668 c. 1668
The Geographer 1669 no.27, 1669 no.29, c. 1668-1669 no.24, 1669 no.28, 1669 1668 c. 1668
The Lacemaker c. 1670-1671 no.29, c. 1669-1670 no.30, c. 1669-1670 no.25, 1670-1671 no.22, 1665 1665-1670 c. 1669-1672
The Love Letter c.1668-1669 no.30, c. 1669-1670 no.31, c. 1669-1670 no.22, 1667 no.31, 1670 1665-1670 c. 1669-1672
The Guitar Player c.1672-1673 no.35, c. 1670-1672 no.32, c. 1670 no.28, 1671-1672 no.32, 1670 1665-1670 c. 1669-1672
Lady Writing with Her Maid c. 1670-1671 no.31, c. 1670-1671 no.33, c. 1670 no.27, 1671 no.30, 1670 1665-1670 c. 1669-1672
Allegory of Faith c. 1672-1674 no.32, c. 1670-1672 no.34, c. 1671-1674 no.29, 1672-1674 no.37, 1672 after 1670 c. 1669-1672
A Lady Standing at a Virginal c. 1672-1674 no.33, c. 1670-1672 no.35, c. 1670 1670 no.35, 1671 late c. 1669-1672
A Lady Seated at a Virginal c. 1672-1674 no.34 c. 1670-1672 no.36, c. 1670 no.31, 1672-1675 no.36, 1671 late c. 1669-1672
Young Woman Seated at a Virginal c. 1670-1671 no.36, c. 1670-1672 no.37, c. 1670 (?) after 1672

1948 - 1866

TITLE
De Vreis De Groot Thoré
Saint Praxedis
Diana and her Companions no.1, 1654 no.3
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary no.2, 1654-1655 no.1
The Procuress no.3, 1656 no.41 no.1
A Maid Asleep no.4, 1656 no.16
Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window no.5, 1657 no.34 no.31
The Little Street no.7, 1658 no.47 no.49
Officer and Laughing Girl no.6 no.39 no.7
The Milkmaid no.9, 1658 no.17 no.25
The Glass of Wine no.11, 1658-1660 no.37 no.20
The Girl with a Wine Glass no.12, 1658-1660 no.38 no.6
Girl Interrupted in Her Music no.13, 1658-1660 no.27 no.9
View of Delft no.8, 1658 no.48
The Music Lesson A., 1659-1660 no.28
Woman in Blue Reading a Letter C., 1663 no.31 no.32
Woman Holding a Balance no.17, 1662-1663 no.10 no.27
Young Woman with a Water Pitcher no.10, 1658-1660 no.19
Woman with a Lute no.20, 1663-1664
Woman with a Pearl Necklace no.18, 1662-1663 no.20 no.33
A Lady Writing no.19, 1663-1664 no.36 no.40
Girl with a Red Hat no.22, 1664 no.46A no.47
Girl with a Flute 1664 no.22
The Girl with a Pearl Earring B., 1660 no.44
The Concert no.14, 1658-1660 no.29 no.23
The Art of Painting no.23, 1665 no.8 no.5
Study of a Young Woman no.15, 1660 no.42 no.2
Maid and Mistress no.26, 1666-1667 no.8
The Astronomer no.27, 1668 no.6 no.36
The Geographer no.28, 1669 no.5 no.34
The Lacemaker D., 1664 no.11 no.37
The Love Letter no.24, 1666 no.32
The Guitar Player no.26, 1667 no.26
Lady Writing with Her Maid no.16, 1660-1662 no.35
Allegory of Faith no.29, 1669-1670 no.2 no.41
A Lady Standing at a Virginal no.30, 1670 no.23 no.29
A Lady Seated at a Virginal no.31, after 1670 no.25 no.30
Young Woman Seated at a Virginal
  1. John Nash."Rediscovery." in Vermeer, 2002, 1995, pp. 102-104
  2. Ivan Gaskell, Vermeer's Wager: Speculations on Art History, Theory and Art Museums, London, 2000, p. 38.
  3. ibid.