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Vermeer Exhibit comes to Rome

2012-09-30

ARTHUR WHEELOCK
Curator of Northern Baroque Paintings (Washington)
 
"Writing letters, or playing music or just greeting each other. Having a little beer together. They are all in this kind of world.”

Some of the most popular one'include 'The Girl with the Red Hat,' which is only 23 centimeters long.

The ordinary themes, also reflect the serenity of life after conflict. The Netherlands had just gone through a war and was enjoying economic prosperity. Above all it was enjoying tranquility.

MARIO DE SIMONI
Palaexpò-Scuderie, Director (Roma)

"These paintings follow the end of a war, so in a very moving way, they reflect the serenity and beauty in of every day life. The paintings also have symbolism. They show that during that time period in Holland, every day chores like cleaning, were in a sense connected to a clean soul.”

At that point the Netherlands had become a Protestant Republic. The pieces were not sold to churches or royalty, which is one of the reasons the paintings focused on average people and not the upper class. The pieces were usually sold in public markets and bought by ordinary families. But the theme of religion does play a role.

ARTHUR WHEELOCK
Curator of Northern Baroque Paintings (Washington)

"That is evident all the way through in this exhibition that the church interiors are all white. They have all white washed the walls, there are no altars. A very special Dutch phenomenon.”

Many of Vermeer's paintings were quite small. But he explicitly focused on religion in one of his larger paintings titled 'Allegory of the Catholic Faith.'

Many of Vermeer's paintings were quite small. But he explicitly focused on religion in one of his larger paintings titled 'Allegory of the Catholic Faith.'

ARTHUR WHEELOCK
Curator of Northern Baroque Paintings (Washington)

"Vermeer was Catholic. He was raised a Protestant, but married into a Catholic family and so you'll see some religious paintings that are very much part of his work as well.”

Despite his talent, Vermeer had a relatively short career. He died in his early 40's and reportedly made roughly 50 painting in his lifetime. From those, only 37 are known to the world.

The exhibit will run until January 2013 at Rome's Scuderie del Quirinale Museum.


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