Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gabriel Metsu, 1629–1667

Where: National Gallery of Art, East Building

When: through July 24, 2011

Gabriel Metsu is Vermeer without the hype. This is how I described this show to a friend. If you like Dutch masters, don't miss this exhibit. It's a small show, so easily seen in a lunch hour, and it's on the ground floor of the East Building, so no trek up to the Tower. Best of all, Metsu is relatively unknown, so no need to get tickets or stand in line for hours.

As seen in this picture, there are plenty of paintings of Dutch people sitting by windows, so the light shines in on them, and they are lovely. The painting that really caught my eye, however, was a quite dark picture of a smithy's shop. The shoe on which the smith was working was painted such a vibrant shade of orange, that it appears to be lit from within, really an impressive effect.

One of Metsu's best known paintings is a self-portrait entitled Hunter Getting Dressed after Bathing. It is an unforgiving self-portrait, one sees Metsu, lumps and all. Made me think that perhaps this was the 17th-century version of tweeting one's junk.

Dogs appear in almost every painting. An Old Couple Feeding Their Dog gave me pause - "here is my future life," I thought, although the calm dog waiting for its food is no great model of my two, running around and barking at the thought of their dinner.

Verdict: Well worth a trip; it closes tomorrow, so don't delay.

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