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Johannes Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry

Seventeenth century Dutch artists created remarkably naturalistic effects in their genre paintings through their careful handling of paint and sensitivity to the effects of light and color. Given the frequent similarities in their subject matter, artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Gerard Ter Borch, Gabriel Metsu, Frans van Mieris, Caspar Netscher, Gerrit Dou, and Jan Steen must have observed each other’s works. Yet they also had distinctive approaches for modeling their figures and objects and rendering materials and textures, owing in part to the differences in their training and the different artistic climates of the towns in which they lived, from Delft and Deventer to Leiden and Amsterdam. National Gallery of Art curator Arthur Wheelock narrates this video, made in conjunction with the exhibition Johannes Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting, which features up-close comparisons of similar works by these artists to show the various ways they painted elegant costumes, costly furnishings, soft plumage, smooth faces, and other details.