A Vermeer in Rome

Vermeer - Woman With a Pearl Necklace
In a situation similar to the one I described in my recent article on A Vermeer Comes to California, Jonathan Janson, the director of the amazing Essential Vermeer web resource, let us know in a comment on that post that there is currently a Vermeer on view in Rome.

Normally the southernmost location to see a Vermeer in Europe is in Vienna (see the Essential Vermeer map of Vermeer locations in Europe).

From now until February 15, 2009, Vermeer’s Woman With a Pearl Necklace (larger version here), a painting that also bears fascinating similarities with the previously mentioned A Lady Writing, will be on loan from the Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Gemäldegalerie in Berllin and on view at the Museo del Corso, along with masterpieces by Rembrandt and other Dutch greats.

Jonathan Janson has articles on the show here and here on his new Vermeer oriented blog Flying Fox. He also has a list of other Vermeers that are traveling this year.

Hi resolution images from the show are available for download here.

It’s remarkable how similar this painting is to A Lady Writing in terms of the composition, the use of the same fur lined jacket, string of pearls and, of course, those famous pearl earrings; and yet how different it is in emotional tone, the far away gaze of the woman, turned away from us here, directly into that airy flood of light, and the seemingly blank wall that frames her.

The wall, where Vermeer so often displays works of art within his own paintings, here serves to display the light itself — flowing in through the delicate latticework of the window like a shimmering ghost, past the hinted sliver of a framed painting and the golden drapery, across the broad tableau of that seemingly empty space, where it reveals the rainbow spectrum within its overall hue, to find and embrace the figure of the woman, warm her robe, sparkle off her pearls like miniature suns and caress and reveal her face and hands with the soft highlights and delicate shadow that Vermeer coaxes out of his brush with uncanny skill.

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