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Biggest ever Vermeer show to take place at the Rijksmuseum in 2023

The Dutch national museum of Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is preparing the biggest exhibition dedicated to the works of Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer with loans from several countries

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is planning the largest exhibition ever on Vermeer, to be held in 2023. Until now the most ambitious show was organised by the Mauritshuis in The Hague in 1996, with 23 paintings. He unveiled plans Thursday to stage the largest-ever exhibition of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings, including his iconic ”Girl with the Pearl Earring”.

Johannes Vermeer exhibition in Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The groundbreaking show in early 2023 will bring works from museums across the globe together under one roof, to shed light on the life and career of the elusive 17th-century Dutch master. It is expected to better the exhibition by the Rijksmuseum’s sister Mauritshuis museum in The Hague in 1996, which at the time with some 22 works was the most ambitious display of Vermeers to date.

“With loans from all over the world, this promises to be the largest Vermeer exhibition ever,” the Rijksmuseum said.

“It promises to have more works” than the 1996 exhibition, Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits told AFP, but he added, “we will not have them all.”

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid (around 1660) from the Rijksmuseum. 

Today some 35 works have been attributed to Vermeer, renowned for his mastery in the use of light, which can be seen in his works like the “Milkmaid”, one of four Vermeers belonging to the Rijksmuseum. “I was always amazed that over nearly a century of organising exhibitions at the Rijksmuseum, who has four fantastic Vermeers, we have never had a monographic exhibition about him,” Dibbits said.

“The Girl with a Pearl Earring”, the much-loved masterpiece which inspired a best-selling novel and a 2003 Hollywood film starring Scarlett Johansson, will be on loan from Mauritshuis, which will collaborate with the Rijksmuseum on the show. Very little is known about Vermeer (1632-1675), who lived a life of modest means in the historic city of Delft during the Dutch “Golden Age” of painting. “For centuries little importance was attached to his work’s name,” the Rijksmuseum said, until his rediscovery in the 1870s.

Johannes Vermeer, The Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665) from the Mauritshuis.

Both museums “will research Vermeer’s artistry, his artistic choices and motivations for his compositions, as well as into the creative process of his paintings,” the Rijksmuseum said. Other works on a loan will include “Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid” from The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and “Woman Holding a Balance” from The National Gallery of Art in Washington.

“Vermeer is somebody who is clouded in mystery, there are so few written sources about him. If you want to get to know him better, you need his work and there is something incomparable between sourcing Vermeer and putting all his works together,” Dibbits said.

The Vermeer exhibition will run from February 10, 2023, to June 4 that year.

All Images: Courtesy Johannes Vermeer. This story was published via AFP. 

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