|The Little Street - Vermeer|
It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint what makes Vermeer's work so magically timeless, yet once experienced, a first hand encounter with a Vermeer painting is one that stays with the viewer forever. I was sixteen when I first saw The Milkmaid at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and remember so well the feeling of joy that painting, with its dazzling ultramarine and yellows, gave me when I finally saw the original with my own eyes. (Incidentally, The Milkmaid travelled to Rome in 1954, where it was exhibited at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, but it isn't, alas, part of this present exhibition.) In many ways Vermeer is an elusive artist – his paintings are loved by so many, yet very little is known about the man, with the gaps in our knowledge of his life filled in by recent fictionalised accounts in literature and film – but this exhibition, through its judicious selection of works from several genres, and many different artists, provides an effective overview not only of Vermeer's entire oeuvre, but also his life in 17th century Delft.
The very first painting we see on entering The Golden Age of Dutch Art is the delightful The Little Street, Vermeer's painting from around 1658, which places us firmly in the painter's neighbourhood with its small, higgledy-piggledly red brick buildings, its everyday folk going about their domestic routines, and, of course, that northern light. A snapshot of Vermeer's life and times, this is the perfect opening to a very special exhibition.
|The Girl with the Wineglass - Vermeer|
Portrait of a Family in a Courtyard in Delft|
Pieter de Hooch
Man Writing a Letter
Vermeer: The Golden Age of Dutch Art is curated by Walter Leidtke, Arthur K. Wheelock and Sandrina Bandera, and continues at the Scuderie del Quirinale until 20 January 2013.
Image usage note: web-resolution, fair use rationale on all images.