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Featured Image: Girl with a Pearl Earring, 46.5 x 40 cm, Mauritshuis Den Haag 1665
Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 13 April 2020
Johannes Vermeer Paintings (1632-1675)
In my last article International Peasant Foods, I spoke of a trip from Canada down through Mexico and South America, which included two-and-a half weeks in New York. From this article and the one on Winnipeg food you may have gathered that I was a conventional soul. From this it should come as no surprise that the first old master I fell in love with instantly I saw the real paintings was Johannes or Jan Vermeer.
In New York I was fortunate to see and admire three Johannes Vermeer paintings at the Frick Museum and five at the Met. All profoundly wonderful. Eight Vermeer paintings represents about one fifth of the Vermeers in existence.
After I left South Africa, I spent two weeks with my girl friend’s brother in the Hague and a few days more in Amsterdam. My first view of the Girl with a Pearl Earring c. 1665 at the Mauritshuis was gobsmacking. I had a similar feeling because I wasn’t expecting it when I first saw the large Art of Painting 1666-68 at the Kunst Historische in Vienna. I viewed Art of Painting several times on that trip and spent at least an hour on two occasions contemplating it. I’ve done the same thing with Girl with a Pearl Earring.
The Mauritshuis in the Hague and the Riksmuseum, Amsterdam added another seven Vermeer paintings to my viewing tally making fifteen and I saw two more in London at the National Gallery and two at the Louvre in Paris which made up nineteen or 51% of the total Vermeers in the world (37, including three disputed ones). All this by 1975 was more by luck than intent. But I have never lost my admiration for Vermeer as a painter.
Many years later I’ve raised my tally to 76% or three quarters. None of this has been by major intent and some of it has been by accident. I am not a twitcher (a term for ticking off bird species) and I am always happy to see Vermeer paintings over and over again because each is a rare occasion. I never tire of them. Each viewing is through the same naïve eyes as my first impression of Vermeer in New York.
I have added to my tally with trips to Dublin, Vienna and Berlin. Denise and I were also quite fortunate to view Italy’s first Vermeer exhibition Johannes Vermeer and the Golden Age of Dutch Art. We stumbled upon it at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome in October 2012. It was open in the evening and there were hardly any other visitors. The exhibition had eight Vermeer paintings, several marvellous and two disputed ones.
I have shamelessly referenced other painters in my own art because of a joy in art. In particular, I have used Hieronymus Bosch, Italian Renaissance artists and MC Escher among many others in my art making. I haven’t used Johannes Vermeer in the same way, but his art does perhaps indirectly underlie some of my main ideas in making art.
I love world art from all eras, but it is only Vermeer and my excitement at walking into the Jeu de Paume (tennis courts) on my first trip to Paris and viewing the wonders of impressionism that have made the earth move. It took me years to forgive the French for moving these works to the Musée d’Orsay. Continue reading “Johannes Vermeer Paintings”