Friday, November 25, 2011


During my visit to Cambridge University, I saw an exhibition titled Vermeer's Women, Secrets and Silence. I expected to see quite a few of Vermeer's works but out of a total of twenty eight paintings, only three and a half were by Vermeer. It was another example of a touring exhibition being promoted to be something that it isn't. Sure, there were many outstanding pictures by Vermeer's contemporaries, so why not include their input into the exhibition by reflecting this in the title? Three and a half Vermeer's? The half is the Vermeer pictured above. It was recently sold for $A30 million dollars. Technical analysis says that it was painted on a piece of canvas identical to the canvas on which Vermeer painted The Lacemaker, but what a difference in quality!! When I first saw it I was a little shocked that this is supposed to be a Vermeer. The face seems to have been retouched by another hand or cleaning has removed some of the paint Vermeer put on himself. There is a lack of resolve in the face. The yellow cloak seems heavy, the light contrast is severe for a typical Vermeer light and the proportions lack the elegance of his mind. When Vermeer died he left many debts so how could his family repay them? It would be unlikely that an incomplete painting could be sold so might it be that this is a picture Vermeer didn't complete at his death and someone else has finished it? It looks like it to me. What do you think?