Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman (“The Music Lesson“) by Johannes Vermeer Returns to the Netherlands for First Time in Twenty Years.
The Mauritshuis to Highlight Masterpiece in Landmark Dutch Masters Exhibition
Timed Tickets for Exhibition, At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection
From September 29, 2016 to 8 January 2017, The Mauritshuis (also known as The Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery) in The Hague (The Netherlands) will exhibit a selection of the most important Dutch genre paintings from the British Royal Collection. The renowned British Royal Collection, held in trust by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, includes highlights by famous painters such as Gerard ter Borch, Gerrit Dou, Pieter de Hooch, and Gabriël Metsu.
The exhibition, At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection, covers a broad selection of the best Dutch genre paintings from the British Royal Collection, including 22 paintings from the Collection and one from the collection of the Mauritshuis, The Young Mother by Gerrit Dou. This painting was part of the British Royal Collection until about 1700, and came into Dutch ownership through King and Stadholder William III. The highlights of the exhibition are Johannes Vermeer‘s ‘The Music Lesson‘ and Jan Steen‘s A Woman at her Toilet. Also featured are significant works by other grand masters of Dutch genre painting, such as the artists mentioned above and Willem van Mieris.
The exhibition At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection is a collaboration between The Royal Collection Trust and the Mauritshuis. The exhibition was first held at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, under the title Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer from November 13, 2015 to February 14, 2016. It then traveled and was on display at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh until July 17, 2016. From Thursday September 29, 2016, the paintings will be on view in the Mauritshuis in The Hague.
Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman (“The Music Lesson”) by Johannes Vermeer returns to the Netherlands this fall for the first time in twenty years. This masterpiece, part of the British Royal Collection, was last on display in the Mauritshuis in 1996, as part of the major Johannes Vermeer exhibition and will be the highlight of this fall’s exhibition At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his contemporaries from the British Royal Collection.
“The Music Lesson” is one of the rare 36 surviving works by Johannes Vermeer. This painting dates from 1660-1662, and shows a woman and a gentleman beside a virginal. Above the instrument hangs a mirror, which reflects the foot of Vermeer’s easel. The painting was acquired by King George III of England in 1762, when it was attributed to Frans van Mieris the Elder. Only later was it recognized as a masterpiece by Vermeer.
(The Mauritshuis itself has three works by Vermeer – Diana and her Nymphs, View of Delft and Girl with a Pearl Earring – but its collection lacks a genre piece by the artist. That’s why the museum is delighted to have the opportunity of showing a fourth Vermeer for a time.)
Another of the exhibition’s highlights is A Woman at her Toilet by Jan Steen, which dates from 1663. In it we see a young woman who, judging by the indents above her calves, is not pulling her stocking on, but off, as her eyes meet those of the viewer. Here too, the context is seen as amorous. These representations were extremely popular in their day. Steen makes the point that the physical pleasures are transient by showing a skull in the door opening, under a lute with a broken string.
The Royal Collection has some of the most important holdings in the world. It owns many paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, and gives pride of place to its genre paintings, scenes that appear to be taken from everyday life. The exhibition At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection introduces the public to the ‘genre painting’, its many forms and the provocative symbolism it often conceals. These works are stunning in their variety, from simple farmhands gathered in an inn to elegant figures in rich interiors. Some of the everyday scenes carry a deeper, often moralistic meaning, which may be explicit or at times concealed. But in all of them, the artists portrayed the characters and their environments as skilfully as possible, which makes them even more attractive.
The Royal Collection and the Mauritshuis
The British Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important collections in the world and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 15 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. The British Royal Collection is held in trust by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Sovereign. (Explore the Royal Collection at www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection.)
The collection have much in common with the Mauritshuis: both are royal collections and both contain a magnificent collection of Dutch masters of the Golden Age. King George IV of England was a key figure in the history of the British Royal Collection. In the early decades of the nineteenth century he acquired many of the paintings which are now seen as jewels in the crown of the English royal collection.
The Mauritshuis is home to the best of Dutch painting from the Golden Age. The compact, yet world-renowned collection, is situated in the heart of The Hague in The Netherlands, right next to the government center. Masterpieces such as Vermeer‘s Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt, The Goldfinch by Fabritius and The Bull by Potter are on permanent display in the intimate rooms of this seventeenth-century monument. More than two hundred top works from Dutch and Flemish masters are on display in the historic yet intimate interior, with its silken wall covering, sparkling chandeliers and monumental painted ceilings. Genre paintings by Jan Steen, landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, still lifes by Adriaen Coorte and portraits by Rubens offer a rich and varied representation of the best of seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting.
The foundations for the Mauritshuis collection were laid by the stadholders William IV and William V. Their descendant, King William I, bequeathed the collection to the Dutch state in 1816 and the museum still bears the name Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery.
The Mauritshuis has also launched timed ticket sales online for the exhibition At Home in Holland: Vermeer and his Contemporaries from the British Royal Collection (September 29, 2016 – January 8, 2017).
The museum is offering timed tickets for the first time since the reopening in 2014. Museum Director Emilie Gordenker explains, “We expect that the exhibition will be very popular. We want to offer our visitors the opportunity to reserve a ticket at a specific time, so that they can enter the exhibition without having to wait.”
Visitors will have direct access to the exhibition at a specific time every day from 3 pm onwards by purchasing a time slot (at € 2.50) in combination with a ticket. The exhibition will be open to all visitors without a timed ticket at any time during the day.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated Dutch and English language catalog, Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer. The catalog is written by the exhibition’s curators, Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Royal Collection Trust) and Quentin Buvelot (head curator at the Mauritshuis) and is currently available from the Mauritshuis museum shop.
The exhibition is made possible by support of ABN AMRO Bank, The Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation and the Dutch Masters Foundation.