Amsterdam, Feb 7 (EFE).- The relatively small repertoire left by Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer has long been scattered across the globe but, for the first time in recorded history, the vast majority have been brought together for an unprecedented exhibition at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
A total of 28 of his 37 known paintings, famed for their sense of calm and clever portrayal of light, are on display at the Dutch museum. Not even the 17th century painter himself would have seen so many of his paintings in one place.
This unique showing, which opens to the public Saturday, has already proved itself a success with 200,000 ticket sales confirmed in advance.
To meet the demand, the Rijksmuseum has had to extend its opening hours.
Journalists from all over the world gathered in Amsterdam Tuesday for the press preview.
Taco Dibbits, the museum director, said it was a “unique” opportunity to see so many Vermeer paintings together.
Relatively little is known about Vermeer’s life (1632-1675) and his works still surprise experts, investigators and admirers today.
His paintings were snapped up by savvy foreign buyers at a time when Vermeer’s name had little clout in the region beyond France.
Nowadays, the majority of his works are hosted outside his native Netherlands – 14 can normally be found in the United States, 15 elsewhere in Europe and one in Japan.
Bringing over two dozen of his rare works together was no easy feat. Many museums are reluctant to lend out these prized items, but a domino effect began when the The Frick Collection in New York agreed to send over its three Vermeer paintings while it underwent renovation.
The Rijksmuseum subsequently negotiated the loan of A Lady Writing a Letter (1664-67) from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, The Allegory of Faith (1670-74) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Lady Seated at a Virginal (1670-72) from the National Gallery in London.
Arguably his most famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665), had less of a voyage, having been lent by the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague. That painting will have to be returned in April, however, ahead of the tourist season.
Nine paintings are not included in the Vermeer exhibition, including The Art of Painting, which was purchased by German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler during World War II and later found by Allied forces in a salt mine tunnel. It remains in Vienna due to its fragility.
The 28 works brought together in Amsterdam are due to remain on display until June 4. EFE