10th February – 4th June.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will show, for the first time in its long history, surprisingly, a major exhibition by one of Holland’s most celebrated sons – the 17th century master Johannes Vermeer. There are parallel exhibitions in The Hague and Delft.
Vermeer was baptized on 31st October 1632 in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. In 1641 he moved with his parents and older sister, Geertruy, from the Voldersgracht to an inn on the Markt, the town square of Delft.
On 20th April 1653 Vermeer married Catharina Bolnes in Schipluiden, a small town a few kilometres to the south west of Delft. In December that year he became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke, of which he was elected chief four times. Like his father and many colleagues, Vermeer also dealt in paintings, but he considered himself primarily a painter. Around 1660, Vermeer moved in with his mother-in-law on the Oude Langendijk, who lived in a building with eleven rooms next to a Catholic hidden church. There Vermeer worked in his studio on the first floor. He died in December 1675 leaving eleven children, ten of whom were minors.
There is no real agreement about the precise number of paintings by Vermeer, but it is generallly agreed to be thirty-seven. Twenty-eight of them are in the Rijksmuseum exhibition, the first time such a large collection the arrtist’s paintings have been brought together, most of them loaned by major museums around the world.
Only a handful of the masterpieces live in The Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum itself has four paintings by Vermeer, including the iconic Milkmaid and the world famous The Little Street. There are three in the Mauritshuis in The Hague – Girl with a Pearl Earring, Diane and her Companions and View of Delft, though sadly none in Delft itself. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis where both museums conduct research into Vermeer’s artistry, his artistic choices and motivations for his compositions, as well as into the actual process and techniques of his painting.
The Amsterdam exhibition will, of course, include masterpieces such as the Girl with a Pearl Earring along with The Geographer, on loan from Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main, Writing Woman with a Maid from Dublin’s National Gallery of Ireland and Woman with the Scales owned by The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in America. In addition, works will be shown that have never been seen by the public in the Netherlands before, including the newly restored Woman Reading a Letter at an Open Window from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.