Johannes Vermeer, Girl Interrupted at Her Music (detail), ca. 1658-59
Johannes Vermeer, 'Girl Interrupted at Her Music' (detail), ca. 1658-59, oil on canvas, The Frick Collection (photo: Michael Bodycomb)

Largest Vermeer Exhibition Will Open in Amsterdam

Nearly all the 17th-century painter's works will be featured.

Seventeenth-century painter Johannes Vermeer is known for his tranquil, introverted interior scenes, his use of bright, colorful light, and his convincing illusionism. In contrast to contemporaries like Rembrandt, Vermeer left a remarkably small oeuvre of only 37 paintings. 

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will be exhibiting 28 of those works in the largest Vermeer exhibition ever staged from February 10 through June 4, 2023. The paintings are on loan from museums and private collections in Europe, the U.S., and Japan. Many of these masterpieces will reportedly never again be loaned out, making this potentially the ultimate Vermeer show.

Using the latest technology to conduct new research into Vermeer’s paintings, a team of curators, conservators, and scientists has worked to shed new light on the artist’s life and work, original compositions, and creative process.

For instance, recent research into Vermeer’s painting The Milkmaid has brought to light two objects on the artist’s original canvas: a jug holder above the subject’s head and a fire basket in the lower right-hand corner. Vermeer painted over both to create more emphasis on the milkmaid herself. The new technology also revealed that while it was thought Vermeer painted slowly and with great thought, in fact, he worked quickly with broad strokes and without premeditation. 

“Vermeer’s painting technique has always been something of a mystery,” says Gregor J.M. Weber, head of fine arts at Rijksmuseum and co-curator of the exhibition. “How did he accomplish this miracle of light and color?  With the discovery of a first sketch in black paint, we get a much better picture of his working method.”

If you’re a Vermeer lover, purchase tickets now and plan a trip to Amsterdam.