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Old 12-29-2004, 10:59 AM   #1
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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Dutch Discover Vermeer Studio in Delft Garden

I would love to see this!
Dutch Discover Vermeer Studio in Delft Garden
By Marcel Michelson

DELFT, Netherlands (Reuters) - An art restorer says he has solved a centuries-old mystery with the discovery of the studio of the 17th-century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer.

Ironically, Daan Hartmann had been working in the same studio for over two decades before he made the Vermeer link.

Hartmann started working in the building in 1980 with the late Dutch artist Anton Pieck and another friend.

"Anton was delighted by the good lighting and he said that we must have had predecessors working in that same room, but I did not follow it up and make the Vermeer connection," he said.

The second best-known Dutch painter of the period after Rembrandt, Vermeer lived in Delft until his death in 1675. He painted some 35 to 40 works, most of which are now in museums around the word, and he lived modestly from art dealing.

Archive research confirmed Vermeer rented the studio that once belonged to a brewery and looks out on the famous Old Church of Delft, which is one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands.

Hartmann wants to open the studio to the public to take advantage of the growing number of tourists who have been coming to Delft since the success of the book and film "Girl with A Pearl Earring," a fictional account of Vermeer's inspiration for the painting of the same name.

Currently, visitors interested in Vermeer can see only a plaque on the site of the house where he lived and buy postcards and books in a gallery in the place where he was born in 1632.

Hartmann also wants the studio put on the UNESCO (news - web sites) World Heritage List to preserve it for posterity.


Vermeer is best known for his meticulously realistic paintings of simple domestic scenes such as "The Milkmaid." He painted them in a studio and not at home where he and his wife had 15 children.

Mirrored images on paintings have allowed Philip Steadman, a professor at University College, London, to reconstruct the studio as part of his research of Vermeer's techniques.

Hartmann says he has found the real thing. And it is just next to one of his other finds -- the little alleyway painted on Vermeer's "The Little Street" that is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Hartmann, 60, is one of the few experts who can tell a real Vermeer from a fake. The art world was scandalized in 1945 when art dealer Han van Meegeren confessed to forging some Vermeers which museums had declared genuine.

Hartmann said his father had always believed that one Vermeer in a Rotterdam museum was fake but had not dared to speak out.

Earlier this year Hartmann, who runs the small gallery and Vermeer museum shop near Delft's central square, was contacted by a rich American family to check the authenticity of a Vermeer that was coming up for auction at Sotheby's in London.

"Young Woman Seated at the Virginals" was sold for some $30 million in July, 10 times the auctioneer's estimate.

During his research into the history of the painting Hartmann stumbled on clues to the location of the studio and checks in the local registry clinched the find.

Records showed Vermeer had rented the building which has three large bay windows that are seen on several of his paintings. The penny dropped.


A visit to the Voorstraat street, along one of the many canals in Delft, shows there is still a building with the name of the brewery from which Vermeer rented the studio.

At first the likeness with "The Little Street" is not obvious. Both buildings in the painting have been renovated and cars are parked outside where children played.

But on closer inspection, the dimensions and position of doors and windows and the outlines of houses in the distance show similarities with the masterpiece.

Hartmann says the girl playing in the street in the painting is the same daughter, probably Elisabeth, who is depicted in "The Girl with A Pearl Earring" -- not the maid Griet who the novel and film suggested was in love with Vermeer.

At close scrutiny both girls have a small hunchback.

"An artist, especially a detail-conscious one like Vermeer, cannot paint a daughter differently than she is. He can obscure a handicap but not make it disappear because then it would no longer be a painting of his daughter," Hartmann said.

A walk through a small alleyway leads to the studio which is situated in an overgrown garden. The small white building with a pointed and tiled roof is set at the back of a bigger one that has an entrance on the street.

Hartmann has put the deeds into a foundation and enlisted the help of the local mayor for his bid to get the place classified as a world heritage site and turn the building into a real museum to honor one of Delft's most-famous inhabitants.
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Karin Wells


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Old 02-25-2005, 12:33 AM   #2
Kimber Scott Kimber Scott is offline
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I wish I lived in a place where one could find such treasures! How exciting. Instead I must settle for arrowheads. Oh well, the grass is always greener on Vermeer's side of the fence.
Kimber Scott
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Old 02-25-2005, 06:48 PM   #3
Timothy C. Tyler Timothy C. Tyler is offline
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I can't believe it was ever a mystery given how much they knew. Isn't Inspector Peureau from there?
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Old 02-25-2005, 08:58 PM   #4
Claudemir Bonfim Claudemir Bonfim is offline
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Many thanks for your post Karin.
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