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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Vermeer: In Praise of the Ordinary

4-Session Daytime Seminar

Friday, September 4, 2020 - 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. ET
Code: 1H0500S
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"The Milkmaid", ca. 1660, by Johannes Vermeer (Rijks Museum)


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • For multiple registrations, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses.

A master of light and color, Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) creates a timeless world where the smallest actions take on a sense of beauty and meaning beyond their commonplace settings. Though few, his paintings are considered some of the finest works in their genre.

Vermeer’s artistry rests in his ability to transform a simple daily activity—such as pouring a jug of milk or reading a letter—into a sensitive exploration of human psychology. His masterpieces such as The Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Milkmaid, Girl with the Red Hat, and The Music Lesson, were meticulously created, often taking six months or more to complete. Gloriously lit, serene, and exquisitely rendered, they continue to speak to us through their ability to touch on some of the most universal ideas in human experience.

Art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine begins with a discussion of Vermeer’s place within the artistic culture of Holland, with an emphasis on his native city of Delft, then examines more closely some of his favorite themes and their possible meanings. The series ends with a discussion of Vermeer’s legacy as reflected in the work of artists and writers following his rediscovery at the end of the 19th century.                           

SEPT. 4  The Sphinx of Delft

Johannes Vermeer and his milieu

SEPT. 11  From the Everyday Into the Sublime

Principal themes and ideas in Vermeer’s painting

SEPT. 18  Painting as Philosophy

What Vermeer can teach us about seeing and thinking about the world  

SEPT. 25  Vermeer’s Legacy

His influence on later artists from the end of the 19th century to the present

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

Patron Information

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.