First look: Milkmaid at the Met

The Big Tomb’s bow to the celebrations of Henry Hudson’s arrival in New York Bay 400 years ago focuses, as its Hudson-Fulton Celebration a hundred years ago did in part, on the Dutch connection. In 1909 we put on a big show of Dutch art, but since we did that two years ago (hanging all 228 Dutch paintings in the collection), instead the museum has persuaded the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (sorry, the link opens with sound) to lend us one of its greatest treasures, and Walter Liedtke has surrounded her with a small, detailed, spaciously installed exhibition, including five of the Met’s own Vermeers, contemporary paintings, and related drawings and prints. I took a quick look this evening — the show opens to the public on Thursday — and the titular picture, modest in size, has the radiant earthliness that must be the thing — now I think about it — that exalts Vermeer for us above his brilliant contemporaries like ter Hooch and Dou. There was also a drawing from a private collection that I loved; I had better go back and take notes, and see the remaining two-thirds of the show as well. More later; meanwhile, the show is up from Sept. 10 to Nov. 29.

Speaking of Dou, when I went up to Boston to see the Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese exhibition at the MFA (totally worth four hours each way on the bus, by the way, but it closed in mid-August), I was riveted, in other galleries, by this:

Gerrit Dou, Sleeping Dog beside a Terracotta Jug . . .

Gerrit Dou’s Sleeping dog beside a terracotta jug, in the collection of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo. It’s not much bigger than it appears on my little laptop screen, and while I’m not saying I’d take it in trade for Tintoretto’s several-hundred-times-larger Deposition (which also staggered me on that visit) or Titian’s entranced Danae, it somehow manages to compact its power the way a nuclear bomb concentrates the explosive force of tons of TNT. Walter knew exactly what painting I was talking about when I mentioned “that little dog by Dou, however you pronounce him.”

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One thought on “First look: Milkmaid at the Met

  1. lisa peet says:

    The little dog looks like mine! Now I have to go see the show.

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