Johannes Vermeer, the famous singer of the quiet beauty of Dutch life, was not a prolific artist: only 36 paintings are widely recognized as his artworks. Nevertheless, whoever wanted to see them all had to travel all over the world – to New York, London, Paris and so on. But now there is no need to leave your home to enjoy the fascinating paintings by Vermeer. The Mauritshuis art museum in The Hague, which owns perhaps the most famous masterpiece of Johannes Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” together with Google Arts & Culture have created an app based on augmented reality technology. It represents a Vermeer virtual art gallery, which includes all the artworks by the Dutch painter. The free application is available to anyone who has a smartphone with a camera, from December 10, 2018.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City sent images of five masterpieces for this app, another four were sent by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum presented four more. The Frick Collection shared three images, and the Louvre sent another two. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston shared a photo of “The Concert,” the painting, which was stolen in 1990. Now, this painting will appear in the Vermeer virtual art gallery – Meet Vermeer app.
In real life, all Vermeer masterpieces are unlikely ever to be collected in one place. As explained by Emilie Gordenker, director of Mauritshuis, some artworks of the XVII century are too fragile to travel, some are in private hands, and the scene, belonging to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, is stolen. Yet, it is still unlikely that all the owners at the same time will be ready to part with their treasures. However, 18 museums and private collectors provided the project with digital images of paintings in high resolution.
It is believed that Johannes Vermeer is a somewhat mysterious artist who lived and worked in Delft – for almost two decades of his career he has created about 45 paintings. Some of his paintings are missing, and, in addition to the 36 pieces of art that a majority of experts recognized as the originals, the Dutch painter is credited with many works. While the discussion of authorship continues, it was decided not to include them in the Vermeer virtual art gallery.
Although many famous art pieces can be found on museum websites, Emilie Gordenker stated that the application gives an idea of the size of the paintings in relation to each other, and it is difficult to convey on a flat picture on the screen.
After opening the application, the user sees the museum without a roof. To enter a particular room, you need to touch the screen, bring your fingers together and unclench them. After that, the perspective changes – a visitor of the Vermeer virtual art gallery sees the walls with framed pictures. Scaling allows you to “approach” each painting and study it carefully.
The first room is dedicated to the earliest works of Vermeer, and the rest of the paintings are divided into themes such as “contemplation,” “symbols and allegories,” and “faces,” known as “tronie” (portraits of people with unusual facial expressions or unusual clothes).