Blockbuster Vermeer exhibition – including restored painting of “Hidden Cupid” – announced at Semperbau in Dresden
The Semperbau Museum in Dresden will organize a major Vermeer exhibition next year with ten paintings by the artist, including Girl reading a letter at an open window, which was restored to display a “picture in picture” showing a naked Cupid hanging on the wall behind the girl.
Other paintings by Vermeer in the exhibition will include two related works: Woman in blue reading a letter (around 1663), on loan from the Rijksmuseum, and Lady standing at a virginal (circa 1770-1772), from the National Gallery in London, according to a statement from the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD).
Works by other Dutch genre artists, such as Pieter de Hooch, Gerard Dou, Frans van Mieris the Elder and Gerard Ter Borch, will be exhibited alongside them from March 19 to June 27, 2021, at the Winckelmann Forum in the Newly renovated Semperbau, said the SKD. Tickets for the exhibition, which SKD promised to be “one of the most spectacular” in its history, went on sale this month.
Painted around 1657, Girl reading a letter at an open window has been in the collection of the city of Dresden since 1742 and is one of 35 paintings definitively attributed to Vermeer. Although the presence of the figure of Cupid, which dominates the upper right part of the image, has been known from an x-ray test in 1979, it has long been assumed that it was the artist who painted it.
During restoration work on the painting, restaurateurs have discovered much to their surprise that the figure was repainted long after Vermeer’s death, and decided to return it to work. The Cupid painting also hangs on the wall behind the Lady standing at a virginal. Scholars believe that this may have been a true image in the artist’s possession: a 1676 inventory of his widow’s possessions includes the mention “a Cupid”.
Girl reading a letter at an open window was exhibited in semi-restored condition – with half of Cupid on display – at an exhibition in Dresden in 2019. It is one of two Vermeers from the Dresden collection; the second, Procurement (1656), was restored between 2002 and 2004.
Next year’s exhibition will feature historic drawings, prints, sculptures and furniture as well as a segment devoted to Vermeer’s painting technique and the restoration of Girl reading a letter by an open window.