The Frick Collection
Frick's Vermeers Reunited
Special Installation: Vermeer

Frick’s Vermeers Reunited
Extended through November 23, 2008

Frick Vermeers Reunited Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl Vermeer's Mistress and Maid Vermeer's Girl Interrupted at Her Music

Vermeer — who had become, in 1653, at the age of twenty-one, a master in the local Saint Luke’s Guild — left a small body of work when he died. The artist crafted his compositions carefully and slowly. It has been estimated that it took him three to four months to finish a single picture, and his entire oeuvre may have consisted of only about fifty to sixty paintings. At present, thirty-five or thirty-six works are regarded by most scholars as autograph Vermeers, while a few additional pictures are subject to debate and several others are considered lost. No drawings or etchings by Vermeer are known. (By comparison, Rembrandt, who died in 1669 at the age of sixty-three, left a much larger oeuvre. According to recent scholarship, 250 to 300 of his paintings survive, in addition to a few hundred prints and an even larger number of drawings.)

While Vermeer was a well-respected artist in Delft — he was named headman of Saint Luke’s Guild in 1662, 1663, 1670, and 1671 — it seems his work was not known outside his native city. One reason for this may lie in the fact that a good number of Vermeer’s paintings, possibly as many as twenty-one, most likely were concentrated in one local collection, that of Pieter Claesz. van Ruijven (1624–1674), a wealthy art collector and investor, who, it is thought, bought the works directly from the artist. Little is known about van Ruijven’s patronage of Vermeer, but it has been suggested that he may have helped the artist gain access to Delft’s circles of discerning connoisseurs. It also is believed that it was van Ruijven who was the first owner of the three paintings by Vermeer now in The Frick Collection, Girl Interrupted at Her Music (above right), Officer and Laughing Girl (above left), and Mistress and Maid (above center).

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