Vermeer Center in Delft

By Lorenz Rychner
This item appears on page 33 of the October 2019 issue.

Despite the fact that it houses not a single original painting by Johannes Vermeer, the Vermeer Centrum Delft (Voldersgracht 21, Voldersgracht 21, 2611 EV Delft, Netherlands; phone +31 15 2138588,, in Delft, offers a fine experience to visitors. My wife, Kathy, and I visited on Aug. 2, 2018, during a visit to the Netherlands.

The center’s ticket office, gift shop and cafĂ© are on the ground floor. Entry costs 9 (near $10) per adult, and the viewing begins downstairs.

In the basement are reproductions of all 37 Vermeer paintings that are still in existence. Hung in chronological order, they remain true to the originals in size and colors. A prerecorded audio guide (free, in English) explains what is not immediately obvious, and many instructive panels round out the experience.

Upstairs are displays on Vermeer’s technique, the paints he used, how he achieved his colors and why his use of light set his art apart from the much darker paintings that were typical of that period.

A video by a restoration expert at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (where one can see three Vermeer originals) shows in fascinating detail how modern technology can highlight corrections done by the artist, himself, as well as flaws from earlier restoration attempts. It also shows methods used to bring back original color tones that have been lost over the centuries.

When Vermeer (1632-1675) died, his wife was impoverished. The paintings she inherited were auctioned off, together with others that were owned by creditors and acquaintances of Vermeer. There were known to be some 50-odd Vermeer originals (he painted very slowly, only one or two a year).

None of the items remained with residents of Delft, and, to this day, not a single Vermeer painting is known to exist there, although Vermeer is inextricably linked with the city.

The Vermeer Center has done a fine job with its reproductions, and we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. We learned a lot!

The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except Christmas Day) and is a 10-minute walk from the Delft train station, through picturesque old-town streets and canals. The direct Intercity trains (from Amsterdam Centraal to Delft Station) take an hour and run frequently. The fare is about 13.20 each way.


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