Vermeer at the National Gallery–just go!

Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman with Pearl Necklace, ca. 1662-1665. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

It’s almost unfair, putting Vermeers alongside other “genre” painters (his are “genre,” I think, only at the level of subject matter). You walk into each room, glance around, and you’ll almost always spot the Vermeer instantly. It’s the light. Light flooding in from a window, across the wall, and getting caught in tiny flecks on pearl earrings, brass tacks, and polished wooden chair ornaments. It’s the way objects and even faces are slightly out of focus. The way even a secondary character–as servant girl, perhaps–gets her own portrait. And then the way, when you look closer, the strokes of paint dissolve into abstraction. Contrast that with the hyper-realistic, high-resolution detail of many of the other painters. Or the way they seem to spotlight the main character head-on, rather than allowing light to move naturally through the room. So, just go. Before it closes 21 January. And make sure to head upstairs to the Dutch Galleries for two more in the permanent collection.Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, through January 21, 2018, West Building, Main FloorNational Gallery of Art. First come basis; no tickets necessary or available.


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