Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum - perfectly paced and presented

The Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum is a hot ticket. After it was announced in 2021, the Rijksmuseum declared the show the “first and last” retrospective for the artist and the most comprehensive show by the 17th century master ever. As a result, demand for the hotly anticipated exhibition has has been phenomenal with the show selling out two days after it opened and tickets being resold on eBay for hundreds and even thousands of pounds.

I was one of the lucky few who managed to secure tickets and had the amazing privilege to visit the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum. It's a show that is perfectly paced and presented and lives up to all expectations.

Vermeer exhibition

Seven years in the making, the show brings together a full 28 of his paintings, from little-known early landscapes to world-famous masterpieces.  

Only nine known works by the artist are missing. One was stolen from a Boston museum in 1990; two, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, cannot be lent because of the terms of their bequest; and another, from the Louvre, is on loan elsewhere. Most of the rest are too frail to travel.

Yes, there were crowds but simple semi-circular rails ring each painting and cleverly disperse the crowds. Velvet curtains in intense green, aubergine and blue hung in each of the galleries muffle sound and create a quiet contemplative experience. Interpretative texts are placed away from the works and apart from these minimal texts, there is nothing: no comparative works, no distracting videos. 

The curators have trusted the Vermeers to speak for themselves, and given us the space to linger and connect with the artist on a personal level. The experience was magical - I only hope that curators from other galleries look and learn and have the confidence to do likewise on other shows.

Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum

If you were unable to get tickets to the show, we have the companion book which is so much more than a matter of consolation. It is just superb with a wide selection of illustrations including many close ups of details, commentaries and up-to-date research. 

Vermeer exhibition catalogue

The first edition of the catalogue sold out days before its official release but we are delighted that the reprint is due the first week of May and available to pre-order.