The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden is restoring Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. The conservation project, which got underway in the spring of 2017, follows the restoration of Vermeer’s The Procuress in 2002–2004. The project is scheduled to be completed before the reopening of the Gemäldegalerie in the renovated Semperbau in 2019.
Regular updates about the conservation work will be provided on: skd.museum/vermeer
Information from the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, 7 November 2017
To better understand the artistic process behind Girl Reading a Letter and its state of preservation, numerous examinations were performed over the past years. Considering its age, Girl Reading a Letter (circa 1657-59) is stable in terms of its conservation condition. Its surface, however, is characterized by severely darkened layers of varnish and old retouching, and this above all gave rise to the decision to restore the painting.
The restoration is taking place in the paintings conservation department of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and is being carried out by the conservator Dr. Christoph Schölzel. The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen’s department for research and scientific cooperation is supporting the project and is promoting interdisciplinary cooperation. The conservation project is able to build on the extensive insights about the work of Johannes Vermeer that have been gained in the course of conservation work on Vermeer’s paintings in other large collections over the past decade.
Marking the beginning of the project was an international symposium with specialists from Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna and Dresden, who themselves have examined and restored works by the artist in the past years. They were invited by the Dresden Gemäldegalerie and will continue to accompany the conservation project, providing their professional input. Furthermore, the archaeometry laboratory at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, directed by Prof. Christoph Herm, will be participating in the project as a partner.
The conservation project is made possible through the generous support of the Hata Foundation in Tokyo.