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Virtuous Rivalry in the Age of Vermeer

H. Perry Chapman, Professor, Department of Art History, University of Delaware. In the age of Vermeer, virtuous rivalry was thought to inspire painters to do their best; in contrast, envy, or jealous rivalry, was painting’s greatest enemy. Rembrandt's training and early career provide a context for understanding the foundational nature of friendly artistic competition, or emulation. In this lecture held on October 31, 2017, H. Perry Chapman uses two paintings by Johannes Vermeer, A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (National Gallery, London) as case studies to determine whether such virtuous rivalry could inspire invention and originality. This lecture accompanies the landmark exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, on view from October 22, 2017, through January 21, 2018, which examines the artistic exchanges among Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries from the mid-1650s to around 1680, when they reached the height of their technical ability and mastery of genre painting.