Experts at the Rijksmuseum announced Thursday that they have found a water jug holder and basket hidden in Dutch master Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting The Milkmaid.
The “astonishing” discovery of a 17th-century masterpiece sheds new light on the enigmatic artist’s technique ahead of the largest ever exhibition of Vermeer’s work, which opens in 2023.
Sophisticated scanning technology reveals that, beneath a plain white wall that highlights the milkmaid’s bright yellow and blue dress, Vermeer first painted the extraneous details before changing his mind. I was.
The resulting simplicity paved the way for subsequent masterpieces such as his iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring. It will also be part of next year’s landmark Vermeer exhibition, researchers say.
“This reveals a new and unexpected Vermeer. It’s amazing,” said Gregor Weber, head of art at the Rijksmuseum, at a press conference.
Vermeer’s transformation means that the figure of the maid seen in the painting pouring streams of milk from a ceramic jug “stands before us in a much more monumental way.”
Researchers knew from X-rays performed about 10 years ago that there was something hidden beneath the layers of paint on the artwork, believed to date back to 1657-8. But I didn’t know what it was.
– “Too busy” –
One of the most significant new discoveries by the Rijksmuseum is that the artist sketched a wooden holder for a jug on the wall just behind the milkmaid’s head.
Experts previously thought it might be a fireplace, but a new technique called short-wave infrared reflectometry has revealed details of the jug and wooden frame.
Typically used for industrial inspection and military purposes, this technique produces a blue “false color” image when it was actually black paint.
Further investigation revealed that such a jug rack was mentioned in Vermeer’s mansion after his death. A very similar model of Holder can also be seen in his 17th-century dollhouse in the Rijksmuseum.
“What we discovered in The Milkmaid was that at first there was no very beautiful white wall behind her. Davids told AFP.
“Now one of the jars has been chosen to make the milk pudding that she is making. I thought, let’s repaint from the top.”
Another important finding is that the shadows of some kind of basket we had noticed before now look like a ‘fire basket’ woven from willow.
The basket has been replaced with a much smaller footstove lined with Delft Blue tiles.
Researchers also found a line of thick black paint “hastily applied” under the milkmaid’s left arm. This indicates that Vermeer made his first sketches quickly.
– ‘Less is better’ –
The discovered sketches provide important insight into the genius of Vermeer (1632-1675).
Little is known about Vermeer, who lived a simple life in the historic city of Delft during the “Golden Age” of Dutch painting.
Changes to “The Milkmaid” were significant for his later work, introducing a “simplicity motto” involving blocks of color and the use of light and shadow.
“These steps influenced his entire work thereafter. He learned that less is more,” said Weber.
The Rijksmuseum uses a similar technique to reveal the creative process behind Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
“You might think that these iconic paintings no longer have secrets for us,” says Annelies van Loon, a researcher at the Rijksmuseum and Mauritshuis in The Hague.
The exhibition, which runs from 10 February to 4 June 2023, will feature 27 of the approximately 35 Vermeer works from museums around the world.
‘This is the first and last time that so many Vermeer paintings have been brought together,’ said Davids.
Tickets go on sale on Thursday on the Rijksmuseum website.
https://www.expatica.com/nl/general/hidden-items-found-in-vermeers-famed-milkmaid-painting-300890/ Hidden Items in Vermeer’s Famous Painting “The Milkmaid” – Expat Guide to The Netherlands