CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Dutch interiors in the age of Vermeer: a rare Vermeer comes to Boston

Exhibition: 19 November 2003 - 22 February 2004


Ronni Baer

From the museum website

Thanks to the generosity of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MFA has been given the unparalleled opportunity to exhibit a beautiful and rare painting: Johannes Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher. For a limited time, this work will be on view in the Matthew and Edna Goodrich Brown Gallery along with a special installation of the MFA’s Dutch genre paintings.

Vermeer’s paintings often feature women in domestic interiors but, unlike other Dutch genre scenes, they lack a clear narrative. Rather, the subject becomes the quality and workings of light, its magical reflections rendered in smooth, highly finished brushwork. In Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, the room’s fashionable furnishings and the woman’s attire indicate her elevated social standing; the silver pitcher and washbasin evoke innocence, purity, and cleanliness.

Surely one of the most famous and beloved artists of all time, Vermeer has recently captured the popular imagination because of a spate of novels fictionalizing his life and subjects. And, while Rembrandt’s body of work consists of several hundred paintings, drawings, and prints, only about thirty-five works by Vermeer are extant. These paintings are concentrated in just a few collections and rarely travel; this loan is a special event. Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to enjoy one of Vermeer’s finest works at the MFA.