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
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.
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..
- 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. Jr., 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.
- SCHÜTZ, Karl, Vermeer: The Complete Works, Köln, 2015.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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."
- Presently only Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. attributes the Saint Praxedis to Vermeer.
||no. 36 (as questionable) 1655||no. 1, 1655|
|Diana and her Companions||no. 1, c. 1654||c. 1653–1654||no. 1, c. 1653–1654||no. 3, c. 1655–1656||no. 2, 1654–1656||no. 2, c. 1655||before 1656|
|Christ in the House of Martha and Mary||no. 2, c. 1655||c. 1654–1655||no. 2, c. 1654–1655||no. 2, c. 1654–1655||no. 1, 1654–1656||no. 1, c. 1654||before 1656|
|The Procuress||no. 3, 1656||1656||no. 3, 1656||no. 4, 1656||no. 3, 1656||no. 4, 1656||1656|
|A Maid Asleep||no. 4, c. 1656–1657||c. 1657||no. 4, c. 1656–1657||no. 5, c. 1657||no. 4, c. 1657||no. 3, c. 1656||1655–1660|
|Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window||no. 5, c. 1657||c. 1657–1658||no. 5, c. 1657||no. 6, c. 1657||no. 6, 1659||no. 6, c. 1658||1655–1660|
|The Little Street||no. 9, c. 1658–1661||c. 1659–1660||no. 11, c. 1659–1661||no.7, c. 1657–1658||no. 9, 1661||no. 7, c. 1659||1665–1660|
|Officer and Laughing Girl||no. 6, c. 1657–1659||c. 1657||no. 6, c. 1657||no. 8, c. 1658–1660||no. 5, c. 1658||no. 5, c. 1657||1657–1660|
|The Milkmaid||no. 8, c. 1658–1661||c. 1658–1659||no. 7, c. 1657–1658||no. 9, c. 1658–1660||no. 7, 1660–1661||no. 9, c. 1660||1655–1660|
|The Glass of Wine||no. 7, c. 1658–1660||c. 1659–1660||no. 8, c. 1658–1659||no. 10, c. 1658–1660||
no. 8, c. 1660–1661
|no. 11, 1660||1655–1660|
|The Girl with a Wine Glass||no. 10, c. 1659–1669||c. 1661–1662||no. 10, c. 1659–1660||no. 11, c. 1659–1660||no. 11, c. 1662||no. 15, c. 1663||1660|
|Girl Interrupted in Her Music||no. 11, c. 1659–1661||c. 1658–1659||no. 9, c. 1658–1659||no. 12, c. 1660–1661||B2.||no. 12, 661||1661|
|View of Delft||no. 12, c. 1660–1663||c. 1660–1661||no. 12, c. 1661–1663||no. 13, c. 1660–1661||no. 10, 1661||no. 10, c. 1660||1660–1661|
|The Music Lesson||no. 13, c. 1662–1664||c. 1662–1665||no. 15, c. 1662–1663||no. 14, c. 1662–1664||no. 16, 1664||no. 13, c. 1662||1655–1660|
|Woman in Blue Reading a Letter||no. 14, c. 1663–1664||c. 1662–1665||no. 17, c. 1663–1664||no. 15, c. 1663–1664||no. 14, 1662–1665||no. 17, 1662–1664||1660–1665|
|Woman Holding a Balance||no. 15, c. 1663–1664||c. 1664||no. 19, c. 1663–1664||no. 16, c. 1664||no. 15, 1662–1665||no. 21, 1665||1660–1665|
|Young Woman with a Water Pitcher||no. 16, c. 1662–1664||c. 1662–1665||no. 13, c. 1662||no. 17, c. 1664–1665||no. 12, 1662||no. 16, 1663||1660|
|Woman with a Lute||no. 15, 1662–1664||c. 1662–1665||no. 14, c. 1662–1663||no. 18, c. 1664||B1||no. 19, 1664||1665|
|Woman with a Pearl Necklace||no. 17, c. 1663–1664||c. 1662–1665||no. 18, c. 1663–1664||no. 19, c. 1664||no. 13, 1662–1665||no. 18, 1665||1665|
|A Lady Writing||no. 20, c. 1665–1667||c. 1662–1665||no. 20, c. 1665–1667||no. 20, c. 1665||
no. 20, c. 1666
|no. 20, 1665||1665|
|Girl with a Red Hat||no. 23, c. 1665–1667||c. 1666–1667||no. 24, c. 1665–1667||no. 21, c. 1665–1666||B3||no. 25, 1667||1667|
|Girl with a Flute||no. 25, c. 1665–1667||c. 1665–1668||no. 25, c. 1665–1670||no. 24, c. 1665–1670||B4||no. 26, 1667||1667|
|The Girl with a Pearl Earring||no. c. 21, 1665–1667||c. 1665–1667||no. 22, c. 1665–1667||no. 22, c. 1665–1666||no. 18, 1665||no. 23, 1665||1660–1665|
|The Concert||no. 19, c. 1663–66||c. 1664–1665||no. 16, c. 1663–1666||no. 23, c. 1665–1666||no. 17, 1664||no. 14, 1662||1660|
|The Art of Painting||no. 26, c. 1666–1668||c. 1667–1668||no. 26, c. 1666–1668||no. 25, c. 1666–1667||no. 18, 1662–1665||no. 24, 1666||1665–1670|
|Study of a Young Woman||no. 22, c. 1665–1667||c. 1665–1667||no. 23, c. 1665–1667||no. 26, c. 1666–1667||no. 30, 1672–1674||no. 34, 1671||1660–1670|
|Maid and Mistress||no. 24, c. 1666–1667||c. 1667–1668||no. 21, c. 1666–1667||no. 27, c. 1667||no. 21, c. 1666||no. 29, 1665||1665–1670|
|The Astronomer||no. 27, 1668||1668||no. 28, 1668||no. 28, 1668||no. 23, 1668||no. 27, 1668||1668|
|The Geographer||no. 28, 1669||1669||no. 27, 1669||no. 29, c. 1668–1669||no. 24, 1669||no. 28, 1669||1668|
|The Lacemaker||no. 29, c. 1669–1670||c. 1670–1671||no. 29, c. 1669–1670||no. 30, c. 1669–1670||no. 25, 1670–1671||no. 22, 1665||1665–1670|
|The Love Letter||no. 30, c. 1669–1670||c. 1668–1669||no. 30, c. 1669–1670||no. 31, c. 1669–1670||no. 22, 1667||no. 31, 1670||1665–1670|
|The Guitar Player||no. 32, c. 1669–1672||c. 1672–1673||no. 35, c. 1670–1672||no. 32, c. 1670||no. 28, 1671–1672||no. 32, 1670||1665–1670|
|Lady Writing with Her Maid||no. 31, c. 1670–1671||c. 1670–1671||no. 31, c. 1670–1671||no. 33, c. 1670||no. 27, 1671||no. 30, 1670||1665–1670|
|Allegory of Faith||no. 34, c. 1671–1674||c. 1672–1674||no. 32, c. 1670–1672||no. 34, c. 1671–1674||no. 29, 1672–1674||no. 37, 1672||after 1670|
|A Lady Standing at a Virginal||no. 33, c. 1670–72||c. 1672–1674||no. 33, c. 1670–1672||no. 35, c. 1670||no. 25, c. 1670||no. 35, 1671||late|
|A Lady Seated at a Virginal||no. 35, c. 1672–1675||c. 1672–1674||no. 34 c. 1670–1672||no. 36, c. 1670||no. 31, 1674–1675||no. 36, 1671||late|
|Young Woman Seated at a Virginal||no. 37 (as questionable) c. 1670–1672||c. 1670–1671||no. 36, c. 1670–1672|
|Gowing||De Vreis||De Groot||Thoré|
|Diana and her Companions||c. 1657–1659||no. 1, 1654||no. 3|
|Christ in the House of Martha and Mary||c. 1657–1659||no. 2, 1654–1655||no. 1|
|The Procuress||c. 1657–1659||no. 3, 1656||no. 41||no. 1|
|A Maid Asleep||c. 1657–1659||no. 4, 1656||no. 16|
|Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window||c. 1657–1659||no. 5, 1657||no. 34||no. 31|
|The Little Street||c. 1657–1659||no. 7, 1658||no. 47||no. 49|
|Officer and Laughing Girl||c. 1657–1659||no. 6||no. 39||no. 7|
|The Milkmaid||c. 1660–1662||no. 9, 1658||no. 17||no. 25|
|The Glass of Wine||c. 1660–1662||no. 11, 1658–1660||no. 37||no. 20|
|The Girl with a Wine Glass||c. 1660–1662||no. 12, 1658–1660||no. 38||no. 6|
|Girl Interrupted in Her Music||c. 1660–1662||no. 13, 1658–1660||no. 27||no. 9|
|View of Delft||c. 1660–1662||no. 8, 1658||no. 48|
|The Music Lesson||c. 1660–1662||A., 1659–1660||no. 28|
|Woman in Blue Reading a Letter||c. 1663–1665||C., 1663||no. 31||no. 32|
|Woman Holding a Balance||c. 1663–1665||no. 17, 1662–1663||no. 10||no. 27|
|Young Woman with a Water Pitcher||c. 1663–1665||no. 10, 1658–1660||no. 19|
|Woman with a Lute||c. 1663–1665||no. 20, 1663–1664|
|Woman with a Pearl Necklace||c. 1663–1665||no. 18, 1662–1663||no. 20||no. 33|
|A Lady Writing||c. 1663–1665||no. 19, 1663–1664||no. 36||no. 40|
|Girl with a Red Hat||c. 1666–1669||no. 22, 1664||no. 46A||no. 47|
|Girl with a Flute||c. 1666–1669||1664||no. 22|
|The Girl with a Pearl Earring||c. 1663–1665||B., 1660||no. 44|
|The Concert||c. 1663–1665||no. 14, 1658–1660||no. 29||no. 23|
|The Art of Painting||c. 1663–1665||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||c. 1668||no. 27, 1668||no. 6||no. 36|
|The Geographer||c. 1668||no. 28, 1669||no. 5||no. 34|
|The Lacemaker||c. 1669–1672||D., 1664||no. 11||no. 37|
|The Love Letter||c. 1669–1672||no. 24, 1666||no. 32|
|The Guitar Player||c. 1669–1672||no. 26, 1667||no. 26|
|Lady Writing with Her Maid||c. 1669–1672||no. 16, 1660–1662||no. 35|
|Allegory of Faith||c. 1669–1672||no. 29, 1669–1670||no. 2||no. 41|
|A Lady Standing at a Virginal||c. 1669–1672||no. 30, 1670||no. 23||no. 29|
|A Lady Seated at a Virginal||c. 1669–1672||no. 31, after 1670||no. 25||no. 30|
|Young Woman Seated at a Virginal||(?) after 1672|
- John Nash."Rediscovery." in Vermeer, 2002, 1995, pp. 102–104
- Ivan Gaskell, Vermeer's Wager: Speculations on Art History, Theory and Art Museums, London, 2000, p. 38.