Despite having carefully limited numbers in order to give visitors the best experience possible, the Rijksmuseum’s Vermeer exhibition finished as the most successful exhibition in its history with 650,000 visitors from 113 nations, over 16 weeks from 10th February to 4th June 2023.
Vermeer is the artist of peacefulness and intimacy. We wanted the visitors to enjoy it to the fullest. This was only possible by limiting the number of visitors. The Rijksmuseum is grateful for the generous loans from museums around the world that have enabled it to bring together more works by Vermeer than ever before.– Taco Dibbits, general director Rijksmuseum
From 7th June to 10th October, 6 paintings by Vermeer will remain on display in the Gallery of Honour of the Rijksmuseum. The Girl in the Red Hat (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and Young Woman at the Virginal (The Leiden Collection, New York) are temporarily shown together with the four works by Vermeer from the collection of the Rijksmuseum
The exhibition led to new art historical and material technical research, both within and outside the Rijksmuseum. This has yielded more insights into his working process, his knowledge of optical tools, the context in which his art was created, and his life in Delft. The main findings are:
- Material technical research provided a better understanding of the underpainting of the Milkmaid. It reveals that Vermeer used quick brushstrokes to establish the composition. The can and board visible in the underpainting, but not in the final painting, indicate that Vermeer continued to seek tranquility and the perfect composition during the painting process. More on this: Rijksmuseum reveals major discoveries on Vermeer’s painting The Milkmaid – Rijksmuseum
- New art historical research shows the influence of the Catholic Jesuit order in Delft on Vermeer’s life and work. Vermeer also came into contact with the camera obscura, the precursor to the photographic camera, through the Jesuits. Revelatory new insights unveiled in new Vermeer biography – Rijksmuseum
- Contrary to what was previously assumed, it is revealed that Pieter Claesz van Ruijven was not alone, but explicitly together with his wife Maria de Knuijt, the most important patron of Vermeer.
After the exhibition, the research continues. In the coming weeks, the Rijksmuseum will be investigating the paintings View of Delft (Mauritshuis, The Hague), The Geographer (Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main), Saint Praxedis (Kufu Company Inc., on loan to The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo), and Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh). The results will be published in 2025, 350 years after Vermeer’s death.