Vermeer and Master Painters at the Musée du Louvre in Paris
The Musée du Louvre is collaborating with the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Gallery of Art in Washington to bring together this one-of-a-kind exhibit celebrating Vermeer.
Twelve of Vermeer's paintings - or a third of the Delft artist's known works - are being shown in Paris for the first time since 1966. The exhibit explores the fascinating network of relationships Vermeer maintained with other master artists of the Dutch Golden Age.
These exceptional works, borrowed from top American, British, German, and Dutch institutions, show Vermeer like never before.
The legend tends to describe the artist as being famously isolated, closed off, and silent; in reality, Vermeer was part of a community of painters. He was in contact with other artists, who contributed to his artistic temperament, honing and individualizing his skills.
Vermeer, a Metamorphosis Painter
More than a trend setter, Vermeer appears as a metamorphosis painter, the "Sphinx de Delft." This famous expression, which goes back to Français Théophile Thoré-Bürger's analysis of the painter at the end of the 19th century, largely solidified Vermeer's enigmatic reputation in popular culture. The myth of the isolated genius did the rest.
Nevertheless, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) did not achieve his incredible degree of mastery and creativity by remaining cut off from contemporary art.
This exhibit aims to demonstrate how Vermeer inserted himself into an existing network of painters, all specialized in the art of representing elegant and refined scenes, by showing his masterpieces next to those of other great Golden Age artists, like Gérard Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Caspar Netscher, and Frans van Mieris. These artists all had a mutual sense of admiration, inspiration, and rivalry.
The third quarter of the 17th century marks the high point of the global economic power of the Dutch Republic. The members of Holland's elite, who took particular pride in their social status, demanded art that reflected their rank. The nouvelle vague of this painting movement finds its roots in the 1650s: artists began concentrating on idealized, staged scenes of private life, with men and women posed with an arranged civility.
While artists certainly painted in different cities across the Dutch Republic, their works share strong similarities in terms of format, subjects, composition, and technique.
The dynamic of this artistic rivalry contributed to the exceptional quality of their respective works of art.
Musée du Louvre