October 02, 2009

Vermeer's Masterpiece, At The Met!

In a remarkable gesture of friendship between nations, the good people of Holland have commemorated the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of New York with the loan of one of their cultural icons - Johannes Vermeer's "The Milkmaid". Usually at home in the fabulous Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam, this magnificent painting will be hanging at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until November 29th.

It's worth a trip to see this small gem. Painted circa 1657-58, it marks the culmination of Vermeer's early period before he moved into his more mature style and is considered one of the most illusionistic of his works. Typical of this Dutch master's exquisite attention to detail, composition and color, the subject is also an allusion to the implied sexuality often ascribed to milkmaids and kitchen staff in Dutch Renaissance painting. The woman is confident and dignified but what is she dreaming of? Does the little cupid on the Delft tile near her foot indicate romance? And what of the open jug with the water pouring out? A topic for art historians, both professional and amateur!

Johannes Vermeer lived a relatively long life, yet he painted only 36 works. It is a special event to be able to see one in person, but this exhibition features six paintings as the Metropolitan delved into their collection and have complemented the Rjiksmuseum loan with all five from their own holdings. The show is rounded out with paintings by other Dutch masters and several beautiful etchings.

This is only the second time that "The Milkmaid"' has been on display in America and we've waited 70 years for the encore. So unless you have a trip to Holland in your future, I hope you'll be able to visit the Met the fall and see this perfect little jewel for yourself.

No comments: