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Voldersgracht 21

2611EV Delft

Tel. 06 20014197

Delft, apart from being a very beautiful city, has two claims to fame. One is its ubiquitous blue and white pottery and secondly, its most famous son, Johannes Vermeer. There are dozens of shops selling china, so it is only to be expected that the painter should be represented as well.

The Vermeer Centrum is a stone’s throw from the town’s main square and, over three floors, describes, explores and explains the artist’s work. It must be said from the outset that this is not a museum and, to be fair, it doesn’t claim to be. There are no original paintings here – in fact, there are only seven Vermeers in Holland altogether – but lots of photographic reproductions, slide shows and video presentations – oh, and a real-life camera obscura overlooking the town square and its unsuspecting visitors.

The most interesting aspect of the place, for me, is that is lines up real-size reproductions of all of Vermeer’s thirty-seven paintings. Now, while it’s not quite seeing them in the flesh, it is fascinating to see them in actual size and to realise just how small many of them are. Other displays show how artists prepared their paint, demonstrate the secrets of perspective and explain how one of Vermeer’s best known paintings, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, was recently restored.

On the ground floor is an extensive shop where you can buy The Girl with the Pearl Earring printed on anything and everything, ranging from a tea-towel to a bicycle bell – and bicycle saddle cover, if that’s not too disrespectful. There is also an extensive selection of books, cards and reproductions, as well as a large café.

Disappointing that there weren’t any actual paintings or genuine relics on display, but nevertheless, there is a lot to learn and enjoy.   Michael Hasted   July 2017