Vermeer Reunited

Johannes Vermeer is arguably the greatest artist of the Dutch Golden Age and certainly one of my favourites. I am captivated by his rich use of pigments, his use of light, and of course the sheer beauty of his work – perhaps most celebrated in the Girl with a Pearl Earring. I also find Vermeer himself intriguing, and it is true to say that there is some mystery about the man responsible for this spectacular trove of artwork.

Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665

I recently watched “Tim’s Vermeer” and, in the process, gained a fascinating insight into just how Vermeer (possibly!) created his masterpieces. This documentary reignited my passion for this artist and gave me a clearer appreciation of his particular genius.


I was therefore naturally exceedingly ecstatic to receive news that The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is ambitiously planning the largest exhibition of Vermeer’s work in 2023. The last exhibition on this scale was staged by The Mauritshuis in The Hague in 1996 and consisted of 23 of the Dutch Master’s 35 rare works.


The Rijksmuseum is the Dutch National Museum and proudly owns 4 works by Vermeer - The Little Street, The Milkmaid, Woman Reading a Letter and The Love Letter. For many years The Mauritshuis and The Rijksmuseum viewed themselves as competitors over the legacy of the Golden Age. However, the new general manager at The Mauritshuis, Martine Gooselink, is an enthusiastic collaborator and has promised The Rijksmuseum 3 paintings - The Girl with a Pearl Earring, View of Delft and Diana and her Companions. Gooselink said “The Girl with a Pearl Earring is the most famous Dutch girl in the world. Yes, we will miss her terribly, but a Vermeer Exhibition without the girl is simply not a Vermeer Exhibition”.


The Little Street, 1658

The Milkmaid, 1658

Woman Reading A Letter, 1663

The Love Letter, 1670

Other works on loan that are set to appear in this monumental exhibition are Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Woman Holding a Balance, Woman Writing a Letter with her Maid and The Geographer.

Girl Reading A Letter At An Open Window, 1659

Woman Holding A Balance, 1663

Woman Writing A Letter With Her Maid, 1671

The Geographer, 1669

This landmark exhibition may be the last to showcase this range of Vermeer’s work due to the difficulty associated with inter-museum loans, including the level of risk imposed on these delicate and fragile artworks when in transit.


The Rijksmuseum exhibition runs from 10th February 2023 to 4th June 2023.


Further Reading on Johannes Vermeer.


- Ahmer