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National Gallery of Ireland re opens with "Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry"
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Woman with a Balance, c.1664. Oil on canvas, 40.3 x 35.6 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington Widener Collection. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.


DUBLIN.- The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin is presenting ‘Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry’, from 17 June—17 September 2017. This major exhibition celebrates the work of Johannes Vermeer and gives new insights into the relationships the artist maintained with other great painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Conceived by the National Gallery of Ireland, this revelatory exhibition brings together some 60 paintings from major public and private collections around the globe. Ten masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) are included – nearly a third of Vermeer’s surviving works and the third highest number of works by the artist ever assembled in the world.

Genre painting – scenes of everyday life – of the Dutch Golden Age between 1650 and 1675 ranks among the pinnacles of Western European art. This exhibition explores how the virtuosity of these masterpieces was achieved in part thanks to a vibrant artistic rivalry among a number of first-rate painters working in different cities across the Dutch Republic. They drew inspiration from each other’s painting, and then tried to surpass each other in technical prowess and aesthetic appeal.

The Delft master Johannes Vermeer is today the most celebrated of these painters. He is frequently portrayed as an enigmatic figure working largely in isolation, but this exhibition clearly demonstrates how Vermeer’s subjects, compositions and figure types owe much to works by contemporary Dutch artists, including Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch and Frans van Mieris, all of whom were more successful and influential in their time. The exhibition brings together groups of paintings of domestic scenes – letter writing, in front of a mirror, musical scenes – and the obvious similarity of the compositions shows the interplay between artists – nonetheless Vermeer’s brilliance and originality brings new heights to the subjects and his work takes genre painting to a yet higher level.

Dr Adriaan E. Waiboer, Head of Collections and Research, National Gallery of Ireland says: “Vermeer and his contemporaries constantly tried to surpass each other’s work in technical prowess and aesthetic appeal. Their creative rivalry contributed to the exceptionally high quality of their combined oeuvre. Visitors to this exhibition will be able to observe that artists had individual ways of inserting, changing and disguising their borrowings.”

The National Gallery of Ireland’s own Vermeer, Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid c.1670, which is regarded as one of the artist’s finest works, is being shown alongside other exquisite compositions including Woman with a Balance, c.1663–4 (National Gallery of Art, Washington); Woman with a Pearl Necklace, 1663–4 (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin); The Astronomer, 1668 (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and The Geographer, 1669 (Städel Museum, Frankfurt). Paintings of daily life by contemporaries of Vermeer, including Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Gabriel Metsu, Pieter de Hooch and Frans van Mieris, will also feature.

The exhibition draws on a significant number of loans from, among others, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; Musée du Louvre, Paris; Städel Museum, Frankfurt; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; The National Gallery, London, and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.






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