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Open today: 10:00 to 5:00

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.

#VermeerDC

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

Related Resources

ExhibitionExhibition Brochure (PDF 634KB)

ResearchConnect Vermeer

ResearchIn Depth: Themes and Ideas in Dutch Genre Painting

Online EditionsDutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century

Related Events

Exhibition Overview
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
Wednesdays at 1:00
Fridays and Saturdays at 11:00
West Building Lecture Hall

Lecture
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
October 22 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium

Lecture 
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

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

Lecture 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

Lecture 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

Lecture Reflections in Mirrors in Seventeenth-century Dutch Genre Painting
November 28 at 2:00
West Building Lecture Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Events For Educators

Teacher Workshop
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
November 8 at 4:30 to 7:30
Advance registration is required

Related Artists

Press

Audio and Video

The Vermeer Phenomenon, Part I
Video, Released: October 10, 2017, (43:47 minutes)
The Vermeer Phenomenon, Part II
Video, Released: October 10, 2017, (9:39 minutes)
Opening soon: Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
Video, Released: September 26, 2017, (00:15 minutes)