The intimate, domestic paintings of Johannes Vermeer are prized for their splendid pigments and nearly photorealistic compositions. The 17th Century Dutch artist is considered a master, yet he evidently had no teacher, took no pupils, and rarely if ever sketched his paintings beforehand. The mystery of his precise, apparently self-taught technique helped earn him the nickname “The Sphinx of Delft”, and has caused speculation that he used a camera obscura to assist him in his work.
But Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting, currently on view at the Louvre, Paris, contends Vermeer was not as isolated and singular as he once seemed. The exhibition examines 12 Vermeer paintings (a third of his known production) in context with the works of six other Dutch genre painters also active from 1650 to 1675. In addition to offering an unprecedented chance to see 12 Vermeer paintings at once, this exhibition elucidates the many trade-offs and inspirations Vermeer shared with contemporaries such as Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Gabriel Metsu, Jan Steen and Frans van Mieris. Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting
is on display at the Louvre until 22 May 2017, before travelling to the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (17 June - 17 September 2017), and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (22 October 2017 - 21 January 2018).
Image Caption: Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid, ca. 1657-1658. Oil on canvas. 45.5 x 41 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum © Amsterdam, The Rijksmuseum