Largest Ever Exhibition of Vermeer Paintings to Open in Amsterdam

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The largest ever exhibition of paintings by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer is set to open in Amsterdam. The exhibit, which will be held at the Rijksmuseum, will feature over 35 works by Vermeer, including some of his most famous paintings such as “The Milkmaid,” “View of Delft,” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

A man looks at Vermeer’s painting The Milkmaid’ at an exhibition bringing together 28 works by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer at the Rijksmusuem in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

This will be a rare opportunity for art lovers to see a large collection of Vermeer’s works in one place, as many of the paintings are usually housed in museums and private collections around the world.

The exhibition is expected to attract thousands of visitors from all over the world and will run from February 9th to May 9th, 2023. What’s quite striking when you look at Vermeer is that in his paintings, it’s mostly women who are the protagonists,” said curator Pieter Roelofs, noting Vermeer had seven daughters.

Though no letter written by Vermeer exists, a key document is an inventory of possessions drawn up after his death, which left the family in debt. Furniture and many objects mentioned on the list appear in the paintings.

Roelofs said major advances have been made in understanding how Vermeer worked, including identifying pinholes at the focal point in some paintings such as “The Milkmaid”, part of a system of strings he used to help ensure perfect perspective. Artists and scholars dispute whether Vermeer may have made use of a ‘camera obscura’, a forerunner of the modern photo camera. Roelofs said Vermeer’s works are more than something a good eye and skilled hand can create.

Recent analysis shows the composition of “The Milkmaid” changed several times, notably by stripping things out to simplify it.

“That is what Vermeer is: it’s never good enough and he keeps working on it until he thinks its sufficient to hand over to clients,” Roelofs said.

“His paintings are so quiet and there are no children … he must have compartmentalized his life and said ‘no, no kids in the studio’.” Museums in Germany, France, Japan, Britain, Ireland and the United States contributed to the exhibition, which opens on Friday and runs until June.

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