Modifications to Vermeer's Milkmaid Discovered After New Research

New research on The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) has revealed what modifications the painter has made. It was previously known that he had originally painted more objects on the famous canvas, but until now it was unclear exactly what was done.

Johannes Vermeer - Het Melkmeisje -(ca. 1660) - Rijksmuseum

The painting from around 1600 is currently being examined using the latest techniques, which are also being used for the restoration of The Night Watch. The first results of the research were shared Thursday and provide more insight into Vermeer's artistic choices.

The researchers have thus discovered more about how the painting was created. For example, a rack of jugs was discovered behind the milkmaid. Also, in the foreground, the painter first made a fire basket. Later he painted over both objects.

In addition, the researchers found a sign with black paint. This means that the painter first quickly set up his depiction before moving on to the details. According to Gregor Weber, head of visual arts at the Rijksmuseum, this gives a better idea of his technique, which "always had something puzzling" about it.

Photo: redcharlie/Unsplash

Other works by Vermeer were examined as well

Not only The Milkmaid is the subject of research. Other paintings by Vermeer are also currently being scrutinized by a team from the Rijksmuseum, the Mauritshuis, and the University of Antwerp.

This is happening in the run-up to the largest exhibition ever of Vermeer's work in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. The exhibition of 27 paintings from around the world will be on display from February 10 to June 4 next year.

Vermeer's entire oeuvre consists of some 35 canvases. That not all works can be shown has to do with, among other things, the fragility of some canvases. There is also a prohibition in a will to let painting travel. Furthermore, a work that was stolen in 1990 in the American city of Boston is still missing.