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Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
October 22, 2017 – January 21, 2018
West Building, Main Floor

Johannes Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance, c. 1664, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener Collection

This landmark exhibition 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 and 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. Juxtaposing paintings related by theme, motif, and composition, the exhibition explores how these artists inspired, rivaled, surpassed, and pushed each other to greater artistic achievement. The exhibition features 10 paintings by Vermeer (many of which have not been seen in the United States since the Gallery’s 1995–1996 exhibition Johannes Vermeer), including The Lacemaker (c. 1669–1670, Musée du Louvre, Paris) and The Love Letter (c. 1669–1670, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). A fully illustrated catalog features essays by the curators and essays and entries by a team of international scholars.

This exhibition is curated by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Dr. Adriaan Waiboer, head of collections and research, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; and Blaise Ducos, curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

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Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, and the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Sponsors: BP is proud to be a major sponsor of this exhibition as part of its support of the arts in the U.S. and U.K. The exhibition is also generously supported by the Hata Foundation, Dr. Mihael and Mrs. Mahy Polymeropoulos, and The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

The exhibition in Washington is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Passes: Please enter the exhibition via the West Building’s Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW entrance. Visitors are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission is always free.

Other venues: Musée du Louvre, Paris, February 22–May 22, 2017
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, June 17–September 17, 2017

Introduction to the Exhibition

To celebrate the exhibition opening on October 22, 2017, 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, share how Vermeer and his fellow painters inspired, rivaled, surpassed, and pushed each other to greater artistic achievement.

Watch now
Video (83:44 minutes)

Exhibition Overview Screenings

The Gallery offers regular screenings of a lecture by Dr. Arthur Wheelock, curator of Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, in the West Building Lecture Hall. The 44-minute film, beginning on the hour, runs continuously on Saturdays and Sundays and at selected afternoon times during the week. Please check at the Information Desk for times and details.

Related Lectures

Innovation, Competition, and Fine Painting Technique: Marketing High-Life Style in the Dutch 17th Century
October 30 at 12:10 and 1:10
West Building Lecture Hall

Dutch Burghers and their Wine: Nary a Sour Grape
November 14 at 2:00
West Building Lecture Hall

More than Mimicry: The Parrot in Dutch Genre Painting
November 20 at 12:10 and 1:10
East Building Auditorium
December 26 at 2:00
West Building Lecture Hall

Time and Temporality in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting
November 21 at 2:00
December 18 at 12:10 and 1:10
West Building Lecture Hall

Striking the Right Chord: Seeing Music in Dutch Genre Painting
December 5 at 2:00
West Building Lecture Hall

Virtuous Rivalry in the Age of Vermeer
December 12 at 2:00
West Building Lecture Hall

Pictures in Paintings
December 19 at 2:00
West Building Lecture Hall

Johannes Vermeer: An Artist of His Time Yet Timeless
January 7 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium

Related Events

Film Vermeer, Beyond Time
December 20–23, 27–30 at 12:00
December 31 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium

Concert
Piffaro, The Renaissance Band
January 21 at 3:30
West Building, West Garden Court

Related Artists

Related Media

SlideshowGerrit Dou: Master Painter in the Age of Rembrandt

SlideshowRevisiting Vermeer: The 20th Anniversary of the 1995 Blockbuster Exhibition at the National Gallery of Art

Slideshow Vermeer's "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter" from the Rijksmuseum

SlideshowJohannes Vermeer's Woman Holding a Balance

SlideshowGerard ter Borch

Audio The Girl with a Pearl Earring: The Making of an Icon

Released: July 1, 2014, (50:34 minutes)

Audio Meeting Metsu: ANOTHER Dutch Master 
Released: June 7, 2011, (65:40 minutes)

Audio Gabriel Metsu, 1629-1667
Released: May 3, 2011, (16:34 minutes)

AudioDutch Paintings at the National Gallery of Art: The Untold Stories behind the Acquisitions of the Rembrandts, Vermeers, and Other Treasures in the Collection
Released: January 18, 2011, (75:00 minutes)

Video Vermeer: In the Light of Delft
Released: September 28, 2010, (6:28 minutes)

VideoVermeer: Master of Light-Woman Holding a Balance, Part 1
Released: December 16, 2008, (3:59 minutes)

Video Vermeer: Master of Light-The Music Lesson, Part 2
Released: January 20, 2009, (8:42 minutes)

Video Vermeer: Master of Light-Girl with the Red Hat, Part 3
Released: March 3, 2009, (5:39 minutes)

Video Vermeer: Master of Light-Camera Obscura, Part 4
Released: March 31, 2009, (1:42 minutes)

Video Vermeer: Master of Light-Woman Writing a Letter, Part 5
Released: May 5, 2009, (2:43 minutes)

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