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  • Writer's pictureAlpineFoxes Team

Vermeer's Amsterdam exhibition is sold out. But you can also visit him in Vienna! Where? Find out!


Painting: "The Art of Painting" by Johannes Vermeer
Picture source: https://www.khm.at/de/object/2574/

On October 31, 1632, a baptism took place in the Nieuwe Kerk in the middle of the city center of Delft. The child, who was baptized Joannis, was the only son of Reynier Vermeer, also known as Reynier Vos, which means nothing else than "fox" in Dutch. Unlike the date of baptism, the exact birthday of little Joannis is not known. What is certain, however, is that he was born in Vermeer's house on the Voldersgracht, where his father ran the inn De Vliegende Vos, meaning "The Flying Fox". It is no coincidence that the AlpineFoxes feel a special bond with this painter! Fox family ties are at play here!


Be that as it may, no one could have guessed on that October day that the name Joannis or "Jan" Vermeer would cause art lovers from all over the world to storm the Amsterdam Rjiksmuseum 390 years later! The despair of the Vermeer fans, who were not able to get a timeslot in the "Greatest Work Show of All Time", would probably also have astonished the small society in the Nieuwe Kerk!

Very little is known about the education of today's superstar. We do know, however, that in December 1653 the young Vermeer became a member of the St. Luke's Guild, a kind of Dutch artists' association, and there he met the painter Pieter de Hooch, who is said to have influenced his work. Incidentally, the two gentlemen are reunited today in our Viennese Museum of Art History.


"Vermeer" was a fairly common name in the Netherlands in the 17th century and is an abbreviation of "Van der Meer," which is usually translated as "of the sea." There were other Vermeers and Van der Meers in Delft, including a doctor, an apothecary, a teacher, a tapestry weaver, and a brewer. At least seven or eight Vermeers worked as painters in the United Provinces in the seventeenth century. During his lifetime, the fame of "our" Vermeer probably did not reach much further than the vicinity of The Hague or perhaps Amsterdam, which is almost unbelievable today!

And yet it is precisely our "Fox-Vermeer", whose works now attract people to Amsterdam's Rjiksmuseum by the thousands! The extraordinary quality of his art was recognized during Vermeer's lifetime by just a handful of wealthy Delft people. What attracts Vermeer fans today is hard to describe: Vermeer's handling of brush and paint, his technical skill, his play with lighting effects, his composition, his fidelity to perspective. Vermeer was a master of light. No artist has painted light like Vermeer, on the one hand realistic and yet enigmatic.


The Vermeer show at the Rjiksmuseum, the art blockbuster of 2023, is sold out. The slots are gone, no chance of ever seeing the 28 paintings on display under one roof again. But dear Vermeer friend, do not despair! Just come to Vienna! There, in a usually very quiet room in the Dutch section of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which is worth seeing in itself, he hangs, "our" Vermeer. Often you have the painting all to yourself, because many visitors are not even aware of what they are so carelessly walking past on the fastest way from Rubens to Breughel. Thanks to me, however you know: You are standing in front of one of Vermeer's main works, the "Art of Painting". The "Allegory of Painting" or "The Artist in his Studio" has also been the name of the painting in its past. Measuring 120 centimeters high and 100 centimeters wide, it is one of Vermeer's largest paintings, and its origin story is a chapter all its own and quite interesting. The master's famous light, colors, symbolism and perspective are also abundant! Right next door, in Room 19, a colleague from the Delft St. Luke's Guild keeps him company: Pieter de Hooch's "Woman with Child and Maid" can be seen there, virtually back to back with the "Painting Art". So why go far away, when this treasure is waiting for you in the Kunsthistorisches Museum!


After the end of the Amsterdam exhibition in June, the paintings will travel back to their respective homes: to the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, to the Mauritshuis in The Hague, to the National Gallery of Ireland, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The work of our former baptist from the Nieuwe Kerk, who himself never left Delft, is now at home all over the world. If only he would know that!


Tickets for the Kunsthistorisches Museum start at €21 (free for under 19s).


You want to see Vermeer and much more? And hear even more exciting stories? Then come on a guided tour with me! Check out my guided tour calendar now and experience Vienna like never before. See you soon!

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