“Girl with a Pearl Earring” Johannes Vermeer / photo. Wikipedia Vermeer was born in 1632 in the Dutch town of Delft near Amsterdam, and died there – early, only 43 years later. Initially, he painted paintings on themes that were common at the time, i.e. religious or historical, but later he focused primarily on genre scenes and portraits of ordinary women; milkmaids or lacemakers. Vermeer lived during the so-called golden age of Dutch art, when Dutch culture, science, economy and political influence were at their peak. (It is estimated that as many as seven million paintings were created in the 17th-century Netherlands.) The painter today is often compared to two other masters of the Dutch Baroque – Rembrandt and Frans Hals. Vermeer, however, painted people who, according to the prevailing beliefs at the time, did not deserve it. Usually they were simple women in the course of everyday activities. His paintings have a unique, extremely calm mood. Dr. Bożena Fabiani, an art historian, talks very interestingly about this feature of his art. – When you look at his paintings, or more precisely pictures, because they are mostly small, time stops. You go into some kind of meditation. There is an unusual atmosphere here, the title character is focused, immersed in his world, as if unaware of someone’s presence. In addition, this play of light and wonderful, vivid colors. Vermeer did not paint as darkly as Rembrandt, he opened the windows and let the light into his studio. And his objects shine not so much because they are polished, but because the human hand has often touched them. The pearl in the girl’s ear also shines. History – the one we know today – appreciated the master of light and shadow only about 200 years after his death, because in the 19th century. To this day, the number of known paintings by Vermeer remains a mystery – there are rumors of 31, 34 or even 38 (the authenticity of some of his works is likely is undermined). However, Vermeer’s work hides more secrets. In recent years, using non-invasive, modern techniques, it has been possible to capture what the Dutchman’s canvases hide. And so, under the top layer of paint, partial or even full sketches of other paintings were discovered, which the artist, for reasons unknown to us, decided to paint over. Thus, the modest number of paintings by Johannes Vermeer and his short but mysterious life mean that the few exhibitions of his canvases are always extremely popular among art lovers.
Record-breaking show in Amsterdam
The exhibition of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings at the Dutch national museum – Rijksmuseum – is the largest collection of paintings by the painter from Delft to date. 28 of them were shown, which is the vast majority of his currently known works. Not all of his paintings were presented at the exhibition due to the poor condition of some of them, which made it impossible to transport them. However, there was still work for those responsible for organizing the exhibition – “Girl with a Pearl Earring” had to be brought from The Hague, and, for example, “Woman with scales” all the way from Washington. The artist’s previous, comparably large, exhibition took place 27 years ago at the museum in The Hague. There, however, several fewer works were collected; visitors could admire 22 paintings. The Vermeer exhibition is scheduled to run until June 4, but just two days after the sale of tickets was announced, the exhibition was completely sold out. It turned out that half a million tickets is definitely not enough. For the time being, their number has not been increased, but the authorities of the Rijskmuseum have announced additional tickets for the evening, i.e. after 5 pm, visiting the exhibition. Let’s hope so, because we may not get another chance to see “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, “The Letter Writer” or “The Milkmaid” in the same place and time.