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Vermeer - The Rijksmuseum's major exhibition catalogue

Pieter Roelofs, Gregor J. M. Weber


Published to accompany the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, this is the first major study on Vermeer's life and work for many years

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Vermeer's intensely quiet and enigmatic paintings invite the viewer into a private world, often prompting more questions than answers. Who is being portrayed? Are his subjects real or imagined? And how did he create such an unrivalled sense of intimacy?

Bringing together diverse strands of the Dutch master's professional and private worlds, this is the first major authoritative study of Vermeer's life and work for many years, throwing light on all thirty-seven of his paintings.

The book was designed by Irma Boom, the ‘Queen of Books’, and printed on an uncoated, ‘Munken Print White’ paper, specially commissioned to ensure the veracity of colours. Irma Boom says: ‘the matte paper brings you closer to Vermeer; there is no gloss or glare in between, just like with the real works.’With a wide selection of contextual illustrations, commentaries and up-to-date research by distinguished international Vermeer scholars, here is the definitive volume on the most admired of all seventeenth-century Dutch masters, one of the world's greatest artists.

With contributions by

Bart Cornelis, National Gallery, London

Bente Frissen, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Sabine Pénot, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Pieter Roelofs, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Friederike Schuett, Staedel Museum, Frankfurt am Main

Christian Tico Seifert, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

Ariane van Suchtelen, Mauritshuis, The Hague

Gregor J.M. Weber, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Marjorie E. Wieseman, National Gallery of Art, Washington


'Proust was once so excited to see a Vermeer show that he collapsed … I got chest pains merely leafing through the catalogue'
Jonathan Jones, Guardian

'Invest in the fat catalogue, stuffed with scholarly discoveries and photographic closeups, and you will learn about everything from Vermeer’s optical mastery to his moral symbolism'
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times

Artists & Illustrators

'A gorgeous thing. Nothing matches seeing a painting in the flesh, but this comes mightily close'
Herald Scotland

'Immerses the reader in the immensely rich pictorial world of the master painter from Delft .. extraordinary close-up detail'
Art Mag

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 26.5 x 21.5 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Illustrations: 200

Publication date: 2 March 2023

ISBN: 9780500026724

Contents List

Foreword by Taco Dibbits, general director, Rijksmuseum

Section I: Essays

1. Vermeer - Biography
An introduction to Vermeer's life and work

2. Vermeer - His House
Although little is known about Vermeer as a personality, an investigation into his direct environment reveals much more. Paying a visit to Oude Langendijk in Delft, this essay examines Vermeer's family members, household life and personal possessions.

3. Vermeer's Invented World
Vermeer's paintings are almost exclusively interiors, imbued with a momentary stillness in time which nevertheless has been carefully constructed and orchestrated to direct the observer's gaze. This creation of intimacy is the key theme of the exhibition.

Section II: The Paintings
Includes every painting by Vermeer, grouped in 13 thematic sections, each written by a curatorial authority. Each theme includes 2–4 works:

Delft – Coming Home
Paintings: View of the Delft, The Little Street

Inside – Still-life Figures, Safe World
Paintings: A Maid Asleep, Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, The Milkmaid

Very Close – Introvert
Paintings: Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, The Lacemaker

Paintings: The Music Lesson, The Concert, The Love Letter

Windows – The Outside World Inside
Paintings: Officer and Laughing Girl, Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid, Woman with a Lute, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

Letters – The World Outside Inside
Paintings: Mistress and Maid, A Lady Writing

Fashionable Intruders
Paintings: The Glass of Wine, The Girl with a Wine Glass, Girl Interrupted in her Music

Attraction/Across the Border
Paintings: Girl with a Red Hat, Girl with Flute, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Study of a Young Woman

Playing Music for.../Waiting for the (music-)partner
Paintings: A Lady Standing at a Virginal, A Lady Seated at a Virginal, The Guitar Player, A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals

The Whole World Inside
Paintings: The Geographer, The Astronomer

World of thoughts/Inner Reflections of Vanity and Faith
Paintings: Woman with a Pearl Necklace, Woman Holding a Balance, Allegory of Catholic Faith

Early Ambitions/Try Outs
Paintings: Saint Praxedis, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, Diana and her Companions, The Procuress

Late Ambition/Legate, Testimony
Paintings: The Art of Painting

About the Author

Both authors work at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Pieter Roelofs is Head of Paintings and Sculpture, and Gregor J. M. Weber is Head of the Department of Fine Arts.

List of Contributors

Taco Dibbits

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