For Vermeer fanatics like me, 2023 will be a year when dreams come true
An exhibition in Amsterdam will gather most of his masterpieces in one place – with a notable English exception
One night, a girl was stolen from her home on Hampstead Heath. A ransom was demanded but no reward offered. Three months later she was found in St Bartholomew’s churchyard in Smithfield. She was returned home to an attic at Kenwood House, where I was then allowed to visit her. She was Vermeer’s painting The Guitar Player, and she had long fascinated me.
For Vermeer obsessives, next year is to be an annus mirabilis. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum set itself the challenge of gathering together every one of the artist’s known paintings from around the world (estimates of the total settle at about 35 – with question marks over the attribution of a handful). Some 28 works will be on display, with only nine of the requested paintings omitted, several on grounds of their fragility. The exhibition is to open in February. I have booked my place in the queue.