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Art history can be fickle – this isn’t so surprising

he painting had come up for auction in The Hague in 1881. “It was very filthy, and only two people realised what it was – a prominent art critic and a collector,” Gordenker explains. Since they were friends, the two men agreed not to bid against each other. As a result, the collector, Arnoldus des Tombe, managed to buy it for the minuscule sum of two guiders and 30 cents – “a real bargain”. “Then, in 1903, Des Tombe left it to the Mauritshuis as a surprise in his will,” Gordenker continues.
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Today it seems incredible that people failed to spot the quality of the picture. Famously, Vermeer created the illusion of the pearl against a patch of dark grey with just two bravura white brushstrokes: a bright highlight on the front, capturing light coming in from the window, and a subtler one lower down, showing the reflection of the girl’s collar. The year the painting appeared at auction, though, in 1881, was only a decade or so after Vermeer’s “rediscovery” by the French. Following the artist’s death in 1675, he had languished in obscurity for two centuries.
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Art history can be fickle – this isn’t so surprising. But just as Vermeer’s fortunes changed, so his Girl experienced a surge in popularity towards the end of the 20th Century. The turning point was the blockbuster Vermeer exhibition that opened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1995. The Girl was chosen as the image for the accompanying poster – and her celebrity status was assured. As Gordenker explains: “There is something interesting about this painting: it reproduces extremely well. And we live in an age of reproduction. It catapulted her to fame.”

“She makes the perfect poster,” agrees Chevalier. “The colours, the light, the simplicity of the image, that direct gaze: a lot of Vermeer’s paintings are people not looking at us, in their own world, but she draws us in. In that way she’s very modern. When you think about the Mona Lisa, she is also looking at us, but she isn’t engaging – she’s sitting back in the painting, self-contained. Whereas Girl with a Pearl Earring is right there – there is nothing between her and us. She has this magical quality of being incredibly open and yet mysterious at the same time – and that is what makes her so appealing.”baby carrier

2.7.14 05:22

Letzte Einträge: Life is too short , so laugh


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