It's only February but already Vermeer And The Masters Of Genre Painting, which opened on 22 February at the Louvre Museum in Paris, is being lauded as the “Exhibit of the Year".
This remarkable exhibition is a unique chance to see together in one location 12 of Johannes Vermeer’s most precious paintings - about one-third of the entire surviving body of his work - alongside many of his contemporaries from Holland’s Golden Age.
Through comparisons with their works - among them Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Caspar Netscher, and Frans van Mieris - the exhibition brings to light Vermeer’s membership of a network of painters specializing in the depiction of everyday life while admiring, inspiring, and vying with each other. Although they were painting in different cities of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, their pictures show marked similarities of style, subject, composition, and technique. This dynamic rivalry played its part in the remarkable quality of their respective works; in this context we might be tempted to think of Vermeer as just one painter among others, but in point of fact this reciprocal contact tended to render his temperament sharper and more individual. Rather than a stylistic innovator, he emerges as an agent of metamorphosis.
French newspaper Le Figaro said that the exhibition is a ‘victim of its own success,’ with the Louvre imposing time slots to view the paintings for the first time in its history.
When the exhibition opened last Wednesday, a record 9,000 visitors saw it. A maximum of 250 visitors is allowed into the museum’s Napoleon Hall, where the Vermeers are on show, at any one time.
The Milkmaid, which normally hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the star attraction of the exhibition. Completed in about 1658, the Milkmaid is rarely lent out and was last seen in Paris at the Musée de l’Orangerie in 1966.
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting
From February 22 to May 22, 2017
Every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Tuesday.
Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.
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