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Vermeer & the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration & Rivalry
February 20, 2017 - May 22, 2017
The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin is organising a landmark exhibition, Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, in collaboration with the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The exhibition will explore the fascinating network of relationships between Johannes Vermeer and Dutch genre painters of the period 1650–1675.
Dutch genre paintings of the period 1650–1675 rank among the pinnacles of Western European art. While Johannes Vermeer is currently the most renowned painter of such scenes, the Delft master was only one of many artists of the period who excelled in capturing everyday surroundings in exquisite detail. Other major genre painters included Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu and Frans van Mieris. These artists frequently drew inspiration from each other’s paintings and then tried to surpass each other in verisimilitude, technical prowess and aesthetic appeal. This vibrant artistic rivalry contributed to the exceptionally high quality of their combined oeuvre.
Vermeer’s subjects, compositions and figure types owe much to works by artists from other Dutch cities. For example, his depictions of a young woman reading a letter in a moment of quiet contemplation derives from the work of Ter Borch, the Deventer artist whose pictorial innovations and psychological insights had a profound impact on his contemporaries. Vermeer also freely borrowed from artists from Dordrecht, Leiden and Amsterdam. In turn, genre painters from outside Delft adopted stylistic and thematic elements from his work to elevate their own compositions. Thus, rather than presenting Vermeer as an enigmatic artist working in isolation, the aim of this exhibition is to highlight his relationships with his contemporaries.
This exhibition invites visitors to take on the role of seventeenth-century art lovers and compare small groups of paintings that reflect the cross-currents of inspiration. Visitors will also be able to observe that artists had individual ways of inserting, changing and disguising their borrowings.
Venues & Dates
20 February – 22 May 2017
Musée du Louvre, Paris
17 June – 17 September 2017
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
22 October 2017 – 21 January 2018
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC