Wednesday 22 March 2023

Rijksmuseum lends Vermeer’s Milkmaid to Amstel museum

Image: Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum has lent Vermeer’s celebrated painting The Milkmaid to the former Hermitage Museum, as a sign of solidarity after the Dutch museum broke its ties with Russia.

The Amstel-based museum, a private body, is running a show called ‘Dutch Heritage Amsterdam’ and is also temporarily hosting the Amsterdam Museum. The Rijksmuseum is lending it one of the gems of its collection for six weeks, from April 1 until May 15.

‘This is a fantastic and incredibly generous gesture,’ said Annabelle Birnie, director of what is now being called the museum complex on the Amstel. ‘Our doors are going to open again, and this was the helping hand we needed. I appeal to other colleagues to follow this beautiful initiative from the Rijksmuseum.’

The painting is rarely lent out and considered one of the highlights of the 35 known works left by Dutch 17th century master Johannes Vermeer. ‘Given the acute situation after the break with Russia, it seems to us self-evident that we would support our fellow museum,’ said Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum. ‘This is why we have decided to lend it one of the best pieces in the Rijksmuseum, Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.’

The Dutch heritage series is intended to highlight individual works and artists. Meanwhile, in the same building, the Amsterdam Museum is presenting several shows, there is an exhibition of children’s work and every Saturday the museum garden hosts a local market.

The Hermitage, as it was formerly known, displayed the collection of the State Hermitage in St Petersberg, did not have public subsidies and suffered particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. It was one of the first to appeal for public donations to stay afloat a year ago.

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