Indepth Arts News: |
"Vermeer and the Delft School"
2001-03-08 until 2001-05-27
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, NY,
Best known for quiet, carefully described images of domestic life
as seen in works by Johannes Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch, and others, Delft
masters also produced history pictures in an international style, highly
refined flower paintings, princely portraits, and superb examples of the
decorative arts. Featuring 85 paintings including 15 Vermeers by 30
artists, about 35 drawings, and smaller selections of tapestries, gilded
silver, and Delftware faience, the exhibition will cast the familiar Delft
School in a new light one that emphasizes the roles of the neighboring
court at The Hague, and of sophisticated patrons in Delft.
The exhibition has been organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New
York, in collaboration with The National Gallery, London.
Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, commented:
The Metropolitan is pleased to present this unprecedented exhibition, which
unlike recent monographic surveys of these artists' works will examine
the paintings of Vermeer and his fellow Delft artists within their proper
historical context. By opening a window on the refined sensibilities of the
artists and patrons of the 17th-century Delft School, these wonderful
paintings and drawings as well as the sumptuous tapestries, gilded silver, and
other examples of contemporary decorative arts can be seen in an entirely
Although the paintings of Vermeer are often regarded as the culmination of
realism in Dutch art, the exhibition will reveal how earlier artistic
developments in Delft paved the way for the achievements of Vermeer and his
celebrated colleagues Pieter de Hooch, Carel Fabritius, Emanuel de Witte,
and others. The exhibition focuses on the key decades of the 1650s and
1660s, but approximately one-third of the paintings on view will date from
the preceding 50 years.
The exhibition will be organized thematically, with familiar and
lesser-known artists exhibited together to illustrate common interests in
style or subject matter during different decades in the century. Thus
Vermeer's choice of themes, and especially his approach to space,
preoccupation with light, and use of certain compositional schemes will be
seen as reflecting not only his own extraordinary powers of observation, but
also his sophisticated understanding of current artistic conventions and
contemporary trends in taste.
Vermeer will be represented by 15 paintings in New York, including six
works that were not seen in the 1995-96 monographic exhibition in
Washington. There will be 10 De Hoochs and 16 views of church interiors
and other buildings by Emanuel de Witte, Gerard Houckgeest, Hendrick van
Vliet, and others, as well as a selection of townscapes by Daniel Vosmaer and
Egbert van der Poel. Several artists who briefly worked in Delft Paulus
Potter, Jan Steen, Adam Pynacker will be represented by outstanding
works; however, other painters who have been connected with the city,
including so-called De Hooch School painters Pieter Janssens Elinga and
Jacobus Vrel, will be excluded because they never worked in Delft or the
surrounding area. In addition to the well-known genre scenes, townscapes,
and architectural views, the Delft School produced distinctive traditions of
landscape and still-life painting, and these will also be included in the
Among the highlights of the paintings by Vermeer are such rarely lent
masterpieces as The Art of Painting (ca. 1667; Kunsthistorisches Museum,
Vienna) and The Procuress (1656; Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden).
Other works by Vermeer in the exhibition include, The Little Street (ca.
1658; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), Girl with the Red Hat (ca. 1665;
National Gallery of Art, Washington) and the Metropolitan's own Allegory of
Faith (ca. 1672).
Although they are similarly titled and were likely painted in the same year,
De Hooch's Portrait of a Family in a Courtyard in Delft (ca. 1658;
Gemaldegalerie, Vienna) and the more intimate and informal scene depicted in
The Courtyard of a House in Delft (1658; National Gallery, London) differ
greatly in both subject and style, revealing the artist's range in appealing to
his patrons' wishes. Two self-portraits by Fabritius as well as his
much-loved Goldfinch (1654; Mauritshuis, The Hague) will also be on
The drawings and watercolors in the exhibition vary from preparatory
sketches to finished drawings depicting views in Delft that are still
recognizable today. A selection of delicate flower, shell, and other nature
studies will be among the highlights of works on paper. Among the tapestries
on view will be an extremely rare horse caparison a full set of weaving to
adorn a horse for parades and other celebratory pageants. On loan from the
Royal Armory in Stockholm, the caparison was only used once and thus
remains spectacularly vivid and well preserved. Other examples of
decorative arts include cabinet bronzes and several pieces of silvergilt
illustrating the high level of artistry attained by Delft silversmiths.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue published by
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.
The publication features essays by Walter Liedtke, Michiel C. Plomp, and
Axel Rόger, as well as several contributions by other international scholars.
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 16321675).
The Procuress, 1656.
Oil on canvas.
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden.