Gemälde während der Firnisabnahme
© SKD, Foto: Wolfgang Kreische

Restoration of Johannes Vermeer’s Painting Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window

After the successful restoration of Vermeer’s early work The Procuress in 2002–2004 by Prof. Marlies Giebe, art historians and conservators became increasingly interested in the second world-famous and revered painting by Vermeer that is held in Dresden, Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. The earliest conservation research as well as art historical and technical examinations undertaken on the Dresden painting took place in the 1970s, when the work first became a subject of extensive art-historical analysis.

[Translate to English:] Beginn der Restaurierung von Johannes Vermeers Gemälde „Brieflesendes Mädchen am offenen Fenster“

In the past ten years, further examinations have been carried out, which have concentrated above all on the complex process of the painting’s creation, its spatial construction and the painting’s position within the oeuvre. Important new insights found expression in the exhibition Der frühe Vermeer (Early Vermeer) in 2010, which, in its Dresden edition, dedicated a special section to Girl Reading a Letter.

Considering its age, the painting, created circa 1657–1659, is well preserved and is in a stable conservation condition. However, the surface is compromised due to darkened layers of varnish, old retouching and over-painting. A major reason to restore the painting was the reduced readability of Vermeer’s original painting.

Frau steht am Fenster eines Schlafzimmers und liest einen Brief
© SKD; Foto: Klut / Estel
Johannes Vermeer, Brieflesendes Mädchen am offenen Fenster, um 1657-1659

[Translate to English:] Restaurierung

The restoration is taking place in the paintings conservation department at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and is being performed by paintings conservator Dr. Christoph Schölzel. Accompanying the restoration is a research project about the painting, carried out in cooperation with the archaeometry laboratory at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, the Doerner-Institut at the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen München, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and The National Gallery in London. 

[Translate to English:] Film

[Translate to English:] Restaurierung 2

At the outset of the restoration, a symposium was held in March 2017 with colleagues from Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna and Dresden, colleagues who have investigated and restored works by the artist in the past years. They were invited by the Dresden Gemäldegalerie and will continue to accompany the conservation project and provide their professional input.

The research and conservation project is made possible in this form thanks to the generous support of the Hata Foundation in Tokyo.

Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window will be presented to our visitors when the renovation of the Gemäldegalerie in the Semperbau is complete and the museum reopens in 2019. It can already be announced as a highlight of the new permanent exhibition.

[Translate to English:] Impressionen

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