From Friday ten masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) can be seen in a unique exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden. It is the largest exhibition to date with masterpieces by the important Dutch baroque painter in Germany. “Every Vermeer exhibition is a sensation in itself,” said the General Director of the State Art Collections (SKD), Marion Ackermann, on Thursday, as only 35 of his works are known at all.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte were expected in Dresden for the opening of the exhibition in the evening. In the center of the show “Johannes Vermeer. On pausing ”is the famous painting“ Girl Reading a Letter at the Window ”from our own collection, which after four years of restoration and research is being presented for the first time as the artist created it. “It’s a key picture,” said gallery director Stephan Koja. Vermeer tried out a basic composition, which was then retained: the standing female figure in a room by the window, where the light comes in from the left. “That marks the transition to the mature Vermeer that we know and appreciate.”
The painting, created between 1657 and 1659, was acquired in Paris in 1742 for the Elector of Saxony, Friedrich August II, and is one of the main works of the museum. The overpainting had been known since 1979, but had previously been ascribed to Vermeer himself. As a result of an international research project, the curators assume “with certainty” that this took place well after his death – and by a strange hand.
The less than a millimeter thin layer was removed with a scalpel and exposed the standing god of love with a bow, arrows and two masks, who adorns the back wall of the room as a “picture in a picture”. He changes the message of the picture. “The boy hovering over the girl makes it clear: he is reading a love letter!” Said curator Uta Neidhardt. The work was traced back to Vermeer ‘s intention.
The Vermeers, including loans from Europe and the USA, are complemented by pictures by Dutch fine and genre painters as well as works and objects related to the subject of the Dresden letter reader. Using a so-called Weborello, a digital tour of the show, visitors can also “learn to see” Vermeer, said Neidhardt.
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