Contrary to the former book, this one is entirely focused on the “sphinx of Delft” as Vermeer was called. This new publication in a smaller format of a monumental-size book still permits the reader to appreciate the details up close: the reflections on the pearls, the motifs on the table runner, the shimmer on satin, and this surprising white light which cascades down from the large glass window panes. The information cards inform us on the itinerary of The milkmaid and the way it was rapidly shifted from the incredible Six collection (which is still at the center of the news in The Netherlands) to the Rijksmuseum, or other surprising origins. While it is exaggerated to call Thoré-Burger a “rediscoverer” (the famous View of Delft had been bought as early as 1822 by King William I for the extraordinary price of 2900 florins), we can appreciate the keenness of the French critic who reorganized the corpus of Vermeer’s works as of 1859. He owned quite a few in his own collection (among them The Concert, stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston) and he helped banker Isaac Péreire to purchase the famous Geographer. So finally, what is it? Did Vermeer paint, 35, 36, or 37 paintings? Here the author stops at 35, since the authenticity of Young girl at the Virginal from the Leiden Collection and Saint Praxedis not seen since 2004, has been questioned.
Review published in the newsletter #462 - from 2 March 2017 to 8 March 2017