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Largest Ever Vermeer Exhibition to Open at the Rijksmuseum

28 of the renowned Dutch artist’s 35 paintings will be on display.

By Irenie Forshaw

It’s an exciting year for the art world with an array of must-see exhibitions scheduled throughout 2023. If you’re lucky enough to visit Amsterdam this spring, it’s well worth stopping by the Rijksmuseum which has managed to secure 28 of Johannes Vermeer’s 35 paintings from museums and galleries across the globe for what will be the largest exhibition of the renowned Dutch artist’s work in history.

Running from 10 February through 4 June, the remarkable exhibition will showcase the four masterpieces already on display at the Rijksmuseum including The Milkmaid and The Little Street, alongside The Girl with a Pearl Earring (Mauritshuis, The Hague), Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid (The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin) and Woman Holding a Balance (The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC).

And, for the first time since they were acquired more than a century ago, The Frick Collection has allowed all three of its Vermeer masterpieces – The Girl Interrupted at her Music, Officer and Laughing Girl and Mistress and Maid – to be shown outside of New York. In another first, several works that have never before been shown to the public will be displayed including the newly restored Girl Reading a Letter at the Open Window from Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. 

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Vermeer The Little Street
Johannes Vermeer’s The Little Street 1658 / ©The Rijksmuseum

the Rijksmuseum teamed up with the Mauritshuis in The Hague for the one-off exhibition, bringing together a collection of highly skilled curators and restorers to undertake painstaking research examining the creative process behind the 17th-century master’s work.

“We would not have thought it possible that so many museums are willing to lend their masterpieces,” said Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum. “We are incredibly grateful to them. With this exhibition, we can introduce a new generation to Vermeer’s painting at the highest level and present the results of the latest research.”

Martine Gosselink, director of the Mauritshuis added: “The Girl with a Pearl Earring is the most famous Dutch girl worldwide. We are very happy to lend her out for this unique collection, where she and two other works from the Mauritshuis, Vermeer’s View of Delft and Diana and her Nymphs, will be seen. Yes, we will miss her terribly, but a Vermeer exhibition without The Girl is simply not a Vermeer exhibition.”

A word of warning here: The Girl with a Pearl Earring will only be on display until 30 March, at which point she’ll be returned to her home at the Mauritshuis, so if you’re hoping to see the beloved masterpiece be sure to visit earlier rather than later.

Vermeer The Milkmaid
Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid 1660 / ©The Rijksmuseum

The team of curators and restorers used cutting-edge Macro-XRF and RIS scanning technologies to reveal underpaintings beneath the Dutch artist’s masterpieces.

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“Vermeer’s painting technique has always had something of a mystery,” said Gregor J.M Weber, Head of Fine Arts at the Rijksmuseum and co-curator of the exhibition. “With the discovery of a first sketch in black paint, we get a much better picture of his working method.”

Alongside the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum, the Museum Prinsenhof Delft will be running Vermeer’s Delft – another exhibition displaying over 100 objects including masterpieces from Delft contemporaries, maps, prints, drawings and biographical documents.

The Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum is running from 10 February through 4 June. Tickets cost €30 per person and can be bought here:

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