Dear Reader, Have you ever read- The Girl with the Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier? Hollywood made it into a movie. I generally prefer the book. Don’t you? I have listened to and love the audiobook. All the Dutch words are correctly pronounced and with their appropriate accents. Imagine my surprise after recently revisiting the above story, to discover that there is a Vermeer exhibition presently going on NOW in Amsterdam!
Whenever I am looking for an image to portray someone reading or writing a letter, I immediately think of a Vermeer painting.
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) lived just 43 years. During his lifetime, Vermeer painted perhaps 44 paintings, 35 survive. And of those remaining paintings, 28 are currently on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Six of those masterpieces feature the subject of writing, receiving, and the reading of letters. The scenes are private often solitary, and like the letters themselves they are intimate. There’s a timeless quality that the artist has captured.
Communication back in 17th century Netherlands would have been extremely limited, as few people were literate. Gossip was how word spread among the working classes at the marketplace. The more affluent members of society wrote letters. Those missives documented news, instructions, and the often yearned for, expressions of love.
This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of the largest collection of Vermeer’s works is in cooperation with the Mauritshuis in Deg Haag. It includes loan works from all over the world and will be on view from 10 February to 4 June 2023 in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Unfortunately, all the Vermeer tickets have sold out. So, in case you (like me) haven’t gotten a ticket, I’ve posted above all of those six “letter-themed” paintings for you to enjoy. And as an added treat, I have gathered some links for you, dear Reader, to take your time and visit the entire Vermeer exhibition online at your leisure on your computer screen. Indulge yourself.