The Louvre Museum, Paris opens an exceptional exhibition this week – Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting – in collaboration with the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The exhibition runs from February 22, 2017 to May 22, 2017 and will present the viewers with the rare opportunity to view twelve paintings by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), representing a third of the known body of work by the Delft master painter. The exhibition seeks to explore the fascinating relationships of rivalry and mutual inspiration that existed between Johannes Vermeer and other Dutch genre painters of the period 1650-1675.
Vermeer and Dutch genre painting
Dutch genre paintings from the years 1650-1675 rank among the pinnacles of Western European art. Depicting scenes of everyday life, genre paintings of this period gained immense popularity in the third quarter of the 17th century, owing to the overwhelming economic prosperity of the Dutch Republic during this period.
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Johannes Vermeer, who lived and worked in Delft, was one such artist among many others who specialised in depicting interior scenes of 17th-century Dutch middle-class life. While he is now revered as one of the greatest genre painters, he was only moderately successful as an artist during his lifetime and left his family destitute at the time of his death. He continued to remain in relative obscurity until the rediscovery of his works in the latter half of 19th century by Gustav Waagen, and subsequently by Théophile Thoré-Bürger, who reattributed to him several works which were previously attributed to other genre painters.
Today, only 36 paintings are universally attributed to Johannes Vermeer. For the first time in Paris since 1966, twelve of these paintings will be presented at the Louvre Museum, making it one of the most highly-anticipated exhibitions to open in Paris this year. The exhibition will subsequently travel to National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (June 17 – September 17, 2017) and the National Gallery of Art, Washington (October 22, 2017 -January 21, 2018).
Vermeer and other masters of genre painting – Exhibition at the Louvre Museum
Johannes Vermeer remains a mysterious figure and relatively little is known about his life even today. Théophile Thoré-Bürger called him ‘The Sphinx of Delft’, an expression that has further exaggerated the enigma associated with the painter, thereby creating a myth of a reclusive genius around him.
However, as the exhibition at the Louvre seeks to demonstrate, Vermeer was only one of the many artists of the period who specialised in painting everyday scenes of Dutch life in exquisite detail. The Louvre exhibition thus seeks to dispel the myth of a solitary artist, by bringing together not only some major works of Vermeer, but juxtaposing them against the works of other major genre painters of his time. Some of the major genre painters to be exhibited include Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Caspar Netscher and Frans van Mieris.
Although these genre painters lived and worked in different cities across the Netherlands, their work shows considerable similarities of technique, style, subjects and compositions. They frequently drew inspiration from each other’s paintings, while trying to surpass the others in verisimilitude, technical prowess and aesthetic appeal. As per the Museum, the exceptional quality of their creations could, in fact, be attributed to the lively professional rivalry that existed between these genre painters.
Vermeer will thus be presented as a member of a bigger network of genre painters, each of whom inspired, admired and vied with each other. In doing so, the exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting at the Musée du Louvre, Paris seeks to highlight Vermeer’s relationships with his contemporaries and the cross-currents of inspiration and rivalries that ran between them.
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting is on view from February 22, 2017 to May 22, 2017 at The Louvre Museum (Hall Napoléon), Paris.
February 22, 2017 to May 22, 2017
At Musée du Louvre
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting
Musée du Louvre’s “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated art exhibitions to open in 2017. This is a unique opportunity to view twelve masterpieces by Dutch genre painter Johannes Vermeer, representing a third of his known body of work, including such beauties as The Lacemaker, The Milkmaid and The Geographer.
The exhibition goes a step further by juxtaposing every Vermeer painting against several paintings by his contemporary genre painters. There are brilliant works from Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Caspar Netscher and Frans van Mieris. In doing so, the exhibition seeks to show Vermeer as part of a larger network of Dutch genre painters, all of whom inspired and vied with each other to create these exquisitely detailed interior scenes.
Musée du Louvre