The Rijksmuseum will include three disputed Vermeer paintings in a new exhibition, saying new expert analysis has shown that they are indeed by the Dutch master.
In what is expected to be a blockbuster show starting in February, the Rijksmuseum will unite 28 of the 37 surviving works by 17th century artist Johannes Vermeer.
The museum announced that – following expert analysis by the Rijksmuseum, Mauritshuis in The Hague and Antwerp University – it is claiming three works as definitive Vermeers. The works include Girl with a Flute, which curators at the National Gallery of Art in Washington said last month was by an imitator rather than the Dutchman himself.
The other two works are ‘A young woman seated at the Virginals’ and ‘Saint Praxis’. All three works will be on display at the largest ever Vermeer exhibition, which runs from February 10 until June 4 next year.
Pieter Roelofs, head of painting and sculpture at the Rijksmuseum, told the Parool that they used ‘integrated’ research combining historical expertise and the latest modern scanning techniques and were convinced that the disputed paintings were by Vermeer. ‘We have re-examined [Saint Praxedis] and on the basis of that research, have unequivocally established that it is a work by Vermeer’s hand,’ he told the paper. ‘This makes it part of the core oeuvre and one of the very earliest signed and dated paintings.’
He said that he was aware that the National Gallery in Washington was going to suggest that Girl with a Flute was from Vermeer’s studio, but that the Dutch experts disagreed. ‘They came out with their findings with the news that it was from “Vermeer’s studio”, which is interesting because it introduces an idea that Vermeer had a studio…In Amsterdam we see things differently than in Washington.
‘You can’t blame them for that: you can only come to conclusions on the basis of your own knowledge. But we can supplement the image by pointing to other paintings. We believe what we say is correct, our argument is clear and based on cutting-edge insight. Girl with a Flute is being lent as “not Vermeer” but we will hang it as Vermeer. The doubt will disappear during the flight over the ocean.’
The exhibition will include three loans from the Frick Collection in New York, others from London, Dresden, Tokyo, Paris, Dublin and London. The Girl with a Pearl Earring, attacked by climate activists in The Hague last week, is intact and will join the show.
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