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Introduction to the Exhibition—Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry

Adriaan Waiboer, head of collections and research, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art. The landmark exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry 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, or depictions of daily life. The introduction of quiet scenes unfolding in private household spaces, featuring elegant ladies and gentlemen, was among the most striking innovations of Dutch painting of the Golden Age, a time of unparalleled innovation and prosperity. The exhibition brings together nearly 70 works by Vermeer and his fellow painters, including Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Frans van Mieris, Caspar Netscher, and Jan Steen, who lived in various towns throughout the Dutch Republic, from Delft and Deventer to Amsterdam and Leiden. To celebrate the exhibition opening on October 22, 2017, Adriaan Waiboer and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. share how these artists inspired, rivaled, surpassed, and pushed each other to greater artistic achievement. Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting is on view at the National Gallery of Art through January 21, 2018.