Saturday, August 8, 2009Saturday, January 9, 2010 Gallery 344 Free Exhibition
This exhibition is scheduled to coincide with The Louvre and the Masterpiece and the important loan to the MIA of Vermeer's Astronomer from Paris, on view in the Target Gallery from October 18 through January 31.
Just 35 paintings by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer (1635-75) survive today. The artist is renowned for his painstaking technique. In his intimately scaled, meticulously composed works, the artist achieved more than mere snapshots of 17th-century life. He created worlds. Measuring only 20 inches high, Vermeer's Astronomer of 1668 presents the rich, well-ordered surroundings of a patrician scholar. The quiet study's sumptuous furnishings are meant to reveal the young astronomer's learning and worldliness. Various objects similar to those in the picture are displayed in this exhibition. From the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota comes a copy of the very book lying open before the astronomer: Adriaan Metius's astronomy and navigation guide of 1621. An early celestial globe by the Dutch mapmaker Gerard Mercator is lent by Chicago's Adler Planetarium beginning October 15, along with a copper astrolabe much like the one in the painting. Other items include a Flemish tapestry and a Japanese silk robe, in Vermeer's day a fashionable garment imported by Dutch traders.
In the 17th century, the study of astronomy--revolutionized by the theories and discoveries of Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, and Newton--was rife with controversy. The celestial maps and charts of the cosmos exhibited in this show illustrate the scientific developments and debates of the time. Vermeer's painting, on the other hand, captures the mystery of the stars and the wonder felt by a scholar contemplating the heavens.
The Night Sky in the Age of Vermeer: The Astronomer in Context
Rachel McGarry, Adjunct Assistant Curator, Prints and Drawings, discusses the exhibition in this short audio piece (8:17).
Download the The Night Sky in the Age of Vermeer (.mp3)
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