Lecture: Vermeer’s Women: Discreet Objects of Desire
Walter Liedtke, Curator of European Paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Saturday, July 9, 2011
In this lecture, held in conjunction with the loan of Vermeer’s Woman with a Lute from the Metropolitan Museum, Walter Liedtke, Curator of European Paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art, focuses on the diverse women in Vermeer’s paintings and considers what they meant to the artist, as subjects in Dutch art and society, and as reflections of his distinctive approach to visual experience. It could be said that Vermeer engaged in an intellectual (although strongly felt) voyeurism, since many of his women are idealized objects of male desire, enthralling but beyond reach. The theme was well suited to Vermeer’s style, which defined intimate spaces in mostly optical terms. The viewer is unable to enter the space or touch the objects, but he—and a man is surely assumed—can also not escape the hypnotic vision.