Time stands still in the harmonious world of Vermeer | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

Time stands still in the harmonious world of Vermeer

It's a must-see show at the National Gallery of Art; not since 1696 have so many of his paintings been brought together in one place.

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The incomparable Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer is known for his solitary, serene figures caught in acts of private contemplation. Now a new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art brings together 21 of the paintings of the master more than half of his life's work and broadens our experience of Vermeer's interests and art. Not since 1696 have so many of Vermeer's paintings, several of which have never been seen before in the United States, been assembled in one place.

One such painting, View of Delft, is a work "without which there could have been no exhibition," according to the show's curator, Arthur K. Wheelock jr. Not previously seen outside Europe, Vermeer's only cityscape has been celebrated by writers including Marcel Proust, who called it "the most beautiful painting in the world."

Frequent contributor Helen Dudar discusses the controversies surrounding the attribution of paintings to Vermeer and the details found within the works that give insight into the artist's life. She also highlights several of Vermeer's best known images, including the intense Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, and the elegant Young Woman with a Water Pitcher.

The exhibition will be on view in Washington from November 12 through February 11, 1996, and then in the Netherlands, at the Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague, from March 1, 1996, through June 2.

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