The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in . The exhibition Vermeer ended on 4 June.

The Art of Painting

Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum

The painter Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) is famous for his serene indoor scenes, his use of bright, colourful light, and his convincing illusionism. He left a remarkably small oeuvre of just 36 paintings, give or take a disputed attribution. These are generally considered the greatest treasures of every collection and are therefore rarely lent out. The largest ever Vermeer exhibition, which is currently on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, shows fully 28 of Vermeer’s paintings and is almost surely never to be replicated. Time-slotted tickets sell for € 30, but they are hard to get. Friends of the museum pay € 50 per year (or € 75 for two persons) and can visit any time, without booking a start time. The exhibition runs until 4 June.

Johannes Vermeer: Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid
Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid (c. 1670)

The four Vermeer paintings from the Rijksmuseum’s collection, including the unperturbed Milkmaid and the tranquil Little Street, are joined by three pictures from the Mauritshuis, of which Girl with a Pearl Earring (on display until 30 March) and View of Delft are best known. From the Frick Collection come three paintings, including Mistress & Maid, depicting a lady in a yellow ermine-trimmed overcoat, a garment that appears in other paintings by Vermeer as well. Another important piece, from the Old Masters Picture Gallery, is Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, which shows a painting of Cupid that had been overpainted — not by Vermeer himself — and that was revealed again in 2021. Further highlights are Girl with the Red Hat and Woman Holding a Balance from the National Gallery of Art, Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid from the National Gallery of Ireland, and The Geographer from the Städel Museum.

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Whether or not you have a chance to visit the exhibition at the Rijksmuseum, you might want to explore the online experience Closer to Johannes Vermeer to learn more about Vermeer’s life & paintings.


A lady wearing the same yellow fur-lined overcoat depicted in Mistress and Maid appears in five other paintings by Johannes Vermeer, namely Young Woman with a Lute, Young Woman with a Pearl Necklace, A Lady Writing, The Love Letter, and — unfortunately not included in this exhibition — The Guitar Player.


The picture-within-a-picture of Cupid in Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window is also shown in Girl Interrupted at Her Music and in A Young Woman standing at a Virginal.


The Vermeer painting that is sorely missed in this exhibition is The Art of Painting, which resides at the Kunsthistorisches Museum.