Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry

Exhibition Website

Oct 22 2017 - Jan 21 2018

This landmark exhibition examines the artistic exchanges among Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries from 1650 to 1675, when they reached the height of their technical ability and mastery of depictions of domestic life. The exhibition brings together some 65 works by Vermeer (1632–1675) and his fellow painters of the Dutch Golden Age including Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Frans van Mieris, Caspar Netscher, and Jan Steen. 

By juxtaposing paintings related in theme, composition, and technique, the exhibition explores how these artists inspired, rivaled, surpassed, and pushed each other to greater artistic achievement. The paintings also reflect how these masters responded to the changing artistic climate of the Dutch Republic in the third quarter of the 17th century, particularly in Amsterdam, Delft, Leiden, and The Hague. 

The exhibition features 10 paintings by Vermeer (many of which have not been seen in the United States since the Gallery’s legendary 1995–1996 exhibition Johannes Vermeer), including The Lacemaker (c. 1669–1670, Musée du Louvre, Paris), which will make its first-ever appearance in this country.  

Text credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Image Credit: Johannes Vermeer, The Lacemaker, c. 1670-71. Oil on canvas, transferred to panel
Overall (unframed): 24.5 x 21 cm (9 5/8 x 8 1/4 in.) overall (framed): 71 x 63 cm (27 15/16 x 24 13/16 in.) 
Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Peintures, Acquired in 1870

Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, is a landmark exploration of the engaging network of relationships among genre painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

The genre painting of the Dutch Golden Age between 1650 and 1675 ranks among the highest pinnacles of Western European art. The virtuosity of these works, as this book demonstrates, was achieved in part thanks to a vibrant artistic rivalry among numerous first-rate genre painters working in different cities across the Dutch Republic. Drawing inspiration from each other’s painting, they tried to surpass each other in technical prowess and aesthetic appeal. 

The Delft master Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) is now the most renowned of these painters of everyday life.  Though he is frequently portrayed as an enigmatic figure who worked largely in isolation, the essays here reveal that Vermeer’s subjects, compositions, and figure types in fact owe much to works by artists from other Dutch cities.  Enlivened with 180 superb illustrations, the exhibition catalog highlights the relationships – comparative and competitive – among Vermeer and his contemporaries, including Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, and Frans van Mieris.

Select Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry to learn more or place this publication in your Amazon shopping cart.

  • Painting
  • European
  • 15th - 17th Century
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Gerard ter Borch
  • Gerrit Dou
  • Pieter de Hooch
  • Gabriel Metsu
  • Frans van Mieris
  • Caspar Netscher
  • Jan Steen
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates