Vermeer was brilliant, but he was not without influences

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JOHANNES VERMEER’S depictions of contemplative moments in serene Dutch interiors have made viewers lean in and gasp for centuries. Only 34 paintings out of a total of no more than 50 have survived, and there are no extant diaries or letters to reveal the intimate chambers of his own life. He was nicknamed “the Sphinx of Delft” by a 19th-century art historian, and thus was born the image of a lone genius working in isolation.

“Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry”, which attracted record crowds during stays in Paris and Dublin, and which comes to the National Gallery of Art in Washington on October 22nd, was designed to shatter that myth. Presenting ten of his masterpieces alongside comparable pieces by artists of his era, the curators seek to present Vermeer as a painter in an artistic milieu, engaged in an active exchange of ideas.

All artists trade ideas with others, says Adriaan Waiboer of the National Gallery of Ireland, and the…Continue reading

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