Making the Difference: Vermeer and Dutch Art
In a nutshell
A unique opportunity to see nine (out of 35 surviving) original paintings by the Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer. Rather than sprinkling the Vermeer paintings throughout, the Vermeers are grouped together in one beautiful room at the end of the exhibition. The other paintings by 17th century Dutch artists such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen, and Pieter de Hooch are shown in groups: portraits, Biblical scenes, still lifes, and daily life. These paintings serve as context and set the stage to even better admire Vermeer’s artistry and skill.
The Ueno Royal Museum plays host to several well attended exhibitions a year. This exhibition is extremely popular. Even with advanced tickets, there is a wait (half an hour) to enter. Because it is crowded, there is a wait to see the paintings up close and even moving, especially in one particularly narrow gallery, can be difficult.
Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets in advance either online (which can be difficult for non-Japanese speakers) or at 7-11. Some tickets are available at the venue at select times. (For example, there was availability at 1700 or 1900 on Monday, October 8.)
English? (labels/audio guides/handouts)
The introduction, chapter information and title cards are in English as wall text. The extended captions for each painting are included in a handout booklet but in Japanese only. The free audio guide given to every attendee is available in English. The museum exhibition page and the exhibition website are both in Japanese only but are understandable with machine translation (Google translate).
Photos are not allowed.
The paintings are impressive but difficult to enjoy up close because of the crowd. Vermeer’s work is elegantly displayed and revered as the masterpieces they are.
Anyone interested in the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age and Vermeer specifically.
How far out?
Centrally located in Ueno Park.
How much time?
Less than 30 minutes with the audio guide, more if you can read the Japanese text in the handout.
How much money?
¥2,500 for general admission.
February 3, 2019
Rating: make a special trip, see it if you’re in the area or have some free time, see it only if you like this specific type of art
Worth the trip to 7-11 and the expense if you want to see Vermeer’s paintings in person.