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Vermeer and the Delft School (Metropolitan Museum of Art Series)
ISBN 0300088485 / 9780300088489 / 0-300-08848-5
Publisher Metropolitan Museum of Art
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In recent years, Johannes Vermeer has become established as one of the greatest of all the Old Masters. In Vermeer and the Delft School the renowned curator Walter Liedtke confirms Vermeer's stature, and in the process elegantly recreates the world of Vermeer's adopted home town of Delft. Written to accompany a major exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery in London, Vermeer and the Delft School brings together eight experts on 17th-century Dutch art to produce a magnificent book that modifies "the popular image of Delft, which seems to be that of a most sweet town with maids pouring milk, sweeping courtyards, and conversing with cavaliers".
Offering a panoramic survey of the history of the town and its art from 1200 to 1700, Leidtke and his contributors suggest, "Delft was a rather small world in the sense that everyone interested in the arts knew everyone else, but at the same time the small world had wide horizons". The idea of a Delft School is meant to be provocative, but the contributors make a convincing case for the town's tradition "of exceptional craftsmanship, of refined and often conservative styles and of sophisticated subject matter and expression---all of which reveal a tendency toward understatement, a certain reserve" among the tapestries, bronze statuary, silver gilt, Delftware, glass and paintings analysed throughout the book. There are fascinating articles on architecture, genre, printmaking, patronage, and collecting that include detailed reassessments of artists like De Hooch, Bramer, Fabritius, Houckgeest and Steen. Sixteen of Vermeer's paintings are beautifully reproduced, and although his work rightly takes centre stage, the 225 colour illustrations reproduced throughout Vermeer and the Delft School show that there was much more to Delft than Vermeer. --Jerry Brotton [via]