We have returned from our 1,870-mile anniversary vacation and we practically killed ourselves trying to see everything! But alas, we proved it impossible. We allowed a whole day for each museum but it wasn’t close to being enough. Plan for three solid days at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and at least two complete days at the Getty Center in Los Angeles–and that is just to see each piece of art for a mere minute.  To really see the paintings, a much longer analyzing/examining/admiring time is required. And of course, this doesn’t include all the other attractions both museums have to offer.

In addition to rooms full of famous art, we saw Vermeer‘s Girl with a Pearl Earring at the de Young,


and his Woman in Blue Reading a Letter at the Getty.


Sadly, the de Young did not allow photos of Vermeer’s Girl, or of any other Dutch paintings on loan. The Getty was much less restrictive and allowed photos of Vermeer’s Woman, and virtually all paintings on exhibit. However, the skylights at the Getty were disconcerting at times. It caused some of the paintings to have excessive reflections and made them difficult to see.  It wasn’t a huge problem, but worth mentioning; standing farther back from the works helped with this, as did the time of day affecting the angle of the light.

Both museums are much easier to navigate than their online directions suggest. The de Young is slightly more difficult to drive to, and we found the layout a bit more confusing and involved–like a maze you can’t find you way out of–but that was probably because it’s a bit larger than the Getty, and because the Getty is organized by separate buildings in very close proximity to each other, but that serve to break up the collections in a more logical way.

The Getty was very easy to get to and, once there, a tram takes you to the top of the hill and drops you off. The idea of having to use a tram sounded cumbersome at first, but it was so much easier than traffic and cars would ever be, and the parking garage was right at the base of the tram–a very easy and short walk. The Getty is FREE except for a $15 covered parking fee that also covers the tram ride. You honestly can’t lose your way here, even if you try, and the views are wonderful.

I took lots of pictures and will post many of them over the next few days, so settle in for a mini online tour of paintings.

Note: All text in quotes is taken from the Getty or de Young museum placards posted beside paintings.


Vermeer's original painting, Girl with a Pearl...

Vermeer’s original painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring from 1665 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember in my first posts I said we were going to see Vermeer‘s Girl with a Pearl Earring at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and Woman in Blue Reading a Letter at the Getty Center in Los Angeles? Well, the day has finally arrived!  We’re loading the car right now and we will be on our way ASAP.  We plan to go up Highway 1 for its luscious scenery and photo ops (a.k.a. painting fodder), even though it will take a lot longer. If I can post anything on the way, I will, but no promises since we’re “winging it” for fun. But I’ll show and tell all when I return.

The museums allow no-flash photography only, on pieces they themselves own, but not for anything on loan–bummer, so I’ll have to settle for gift shop prints.

I’m taking a giclée of my GWAPE (see earlier post) so that I can compare it directly with the real version.

We got so lucky with the timing of our visit to the deYoung because it just happens to fall in that one week each year when San Francisco’s floral designers display their creations at the museum for a show called, Bouquets for Art. From the pictures I’ve seen, I imagine it will be exquisite.

Soon, I will be posting lots of photographs for you to see.  Until then, I hope you have a wonderful week.

Johannes Vermeer - Woman in Blue Reading a Let...

Johannes Vermeer – Woman in Blue Reading a Letter – WGA24657 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


well, almost.  I just found out about it so we have decided to visit the Getty Center as well, on our way to the deYoung in San Francisco.  Here are some of the details:

Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (ca. 1663-64), on loan from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, is being exhibited at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, daily through March 31, 2013.  It will then go back to its home for the grand reopening of the Rijksmuseum on April 13, 2013, after extensive renovation.

From the Getty Museum site:

“Woman in Blue Reading a Letter represents one of Vermeer’s most enigmatic depictions of a new theme in Dutch genre painting (subjects from everyday life): well-to-do women in domestic settings, often so preoccupied that they are oblivious to the viewer’s gaze. This special installation highlights the variety of artistic contributions to the popular theme of the intimate interior in the 1660s to complement Vermeer’s quiet, harmonious reader. Gerard ter Borch’s Music Lesson, Jan Steen’s Drawing Lesson, Pieter de Hooch’s Woman Preparing Bread and Butter for a Boy, and Frans van Mieris’s The Doctor’s Visit from the Getty Museum’s collection, as well as Gabriel Metsu’s An Elegant Lady Writing at Her Desk with a Dog beside Her (on loan from a private collection in New York) share refined brushwork and dazzling illusionism in the rendering of highly-constructed private spaces.”

In addition, they are exhibiting a pair of large Franz Hals‘ paintings which will also go back to Amsterdam on March 31st.

Lucas de Clercq by Frans Hals (ca. 1635)


Feyna van Steenkiste by Frans Hals (ca. 1635)


Here is more info from the Getty:

“About the Sitters–Lucas de Clercq (about 1603–1652) was a wealthy Haarlem merchant who dealt in potash (an alkaline material used in bleaching), bleached linens, and linen yarn.  Lucas married Feyna van Steenkiste (1603/4–1640), whose family was also involved in Haarlem’s linen and bleaching enterprises, in 1626.  Lucas de Clercq and his wife were prominent members of the extensive Mennonite community in Haarlem, most of whom were involved in the city’s textile industries. Proponents of non-resistance, Mennonites strove to follow the example of the apostles and to live a modest life. Both Lucas and Feyna are dressed modestly in sober black garments that do not ostentatiously display their wealth and social standing.”

Apparently, these paintings have never been in the Western United States until now, and who knows when they will return.

The “Dutch Mona Lisa,” Girl with a Pearl Earring, is now showing at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, along with 35 other works by the Dutch Masters! Next, it moves to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and last on the three-museum tour will be the Frick Collection in New York. The show will only make these three stops in the U.S. so, for many of us, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see this.

The Mauritshuis is renovating and expanding, so they are sending some of their best paintings on tour. The last time (1995) Girl with a Pearl Earring was in the U.S. was at the National Gallery in Washington, where lines to see it circled the block; the time before that was in 1984 at the Met in New York City.

Paintings in the exhibit include:

Goldfinch, Fabritius, 1654
“Tronie” of a Man with a Feathered Beret, Rembrandt, ca. 1635
Tronie’ of a Man with a Feathered Beret rembrandt
The Way You Hear It, Is The Way You Sing It, Steen, ca. 1665
The Way You Hear it is the Way You Sing it by Jan Steen
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vermeer, ca. 1665
Girl with a Pearl Earring Vermeer
View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds, van Ruisdael, 1670–1675
View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds van Ruisdael

Girl with a Pearl Earring was last restored in 1994 and at that time, restorers discovered that Vermeer used organic pigments, indigo and weld, in the background. Thus, he intended it to be a deep green color accomplished with glazes, but these glazes have faded over time.

Interestingly, more recent Vermeer research points to the image being a “tronie,” or “face,” a term for figures not intended to be identifiable (like a genre painting). Tronies are often in elaborate or exotic costumes and the portrait, whether done using a sitter or not, would be sold without identifying the model.

My husband and I will be going to the show in San Francisco in late March, at which time I will probably discover that I need to come back home and put some green glazes over the background of my Girl with a Pearl Earring (see post, Feb. 23, 2013). Thank goodness for art books, but there is nothing like seeing the real paintings hanging on the wall.

For more information:
de Young Museum, San Francisco
Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis
January 26, 2013 – June 2, 2013
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis
June 22, 2013 – September 29, 2013
The Frick Collection, New York City
An abbreviated show of 10 paintings, including Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, and As the Old Sing, So Twitter the Young and Girl Eating Oysters by Jan Steen.