Vermeer and the masters of genre painting at the Louvre

Published on 06.03.2017
Bringing twelve of Vermeer’s works to Paris for the first time since 1966, the exhibition will comprise a third of the Dutch master’s known oeuvre, and aims to explore the relationships that he built with his artistic peers in the Netherlands.
Tableau de La Dentellière de Vermeer exposé au Louvre
© Le Louvre
Johannes ou Jan VERMEER (Delft, 1632 - Delft, 1675), La Dentellière

What sort of relationship did the painter have with his fellow artists? Was he as isolated as has long been believed? This exhibition at the Louvre aims to reconsider Vermeer and his contemporaries. This unmissable event runs until 22 May.

Included among the twelve paintings exhibited at the Louvre is an early work by Vermeer that is only very exceptionally loaned by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam: “The Milkmaid”. The exhibition also provides the opportunity to admire “The Lacemaker”, the artist’s smallest work at only 24.5 cm x 21 cm, painted around the year 1670 and depicting a young girl absorbed by her work. Demonstrating an extraordinary eye for colour, Vermeer used very expensive natural pigments to create earthy colours such as ochre, amber and lapis-lazuli blues.
During the Golden Age of the 17th-century in the Netherlands, Vermeer’s interior scenes were a constant source of wonderment. A genius at depicting intimacy, he was one of the first artists to consider the phenomenon of depth in his work, by blurring the foreground and making the background crisp and clear. One fine example of this visual trickery can be found in the tiled flooring of “The Music Room” (1662-64), which draws the viewer’s gaze towards the decor. It is for this reason that Vermeer is considered to be the unrivalled master of perspective.
Nicknamed the Sphinx of Delft on account of his mysterious private life, Vermeer’s paintings very rarely depicted his town. Paradoxically, by describing the view of Delft and its “little section of yellow wall” in À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, Marcel Proust contributed to once more raising the artist’s profile in the 19th century.

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