Two major exhibition presenting Vermeer's intimate domestic worlds and the Imperial collection of Hapsburg treasure will come to the Fitzwilliam Museum later this year. The astonishing intimacy of interior scenes by Vermeer and his seventeenth-century contemporaries will be explored in Vermeer's Women: Secrets and Silence (opening 5 October 2011). At the heart of this visually stunning exhibition is Vermeer's extraordinary painting The Lacemaker (c.1669-70) - one of the Musée du Louvre's most famous works, rarely seen outside Paris and now on loan to the UK for the first time. The painting will be joined by a choice selection of other key works by Vermeer representing the pinnacle of his mature career, and over thirty other masterpieces of genre painting from the Dutch 'Golden Age'.
From 16 August, visitors can experience a stunning collection of precious decorative arts never before seen in the UK - the treasures of the Hapsburg Emperors - in Splendour and Power: Imperial Treasures from Vienna. This unique selection of beautifully crafted jewellery, vessels and other objects made from gems, precious metals and stones will be coming to the Fitzwilliam from the renowned 'Kunstkammer' collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. This is the first time that audiences in Britain will be able to view these extraordinary objects, as the collection has never before been loaned on this scale.
Dr Timothy Potts, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, said: â€œVermeer's Women will be a rare opportunity to enjoy some of Vermeer's most ravishingly beautiful paintings of the intimacy of the Dutch household - frozen moments of young women sewing, reading or playing musical instruments, captured in Vermeer's uniquely luminous style. Although domestic scenes constitute the principal subject of Vermeer's work and that of many of his contemporaries, and are one of the most distinctive and evocative aspects of Dutch art of the Golden Age, this will be the first exhibition to focus exclusively on them, and to explore their hidden significance in terms of contemporary Dutch mores.
â€œThe Fitzwilliam is delighted too to welcome the superb Vienna Kunstkammer collection to Cambridge for its first and only UK showing. Widely regarded as the most important collection of its kind anywhere in the world, this collection provides a fascinating insight into how European princely collections have evolved, from medieval troves of relics to the 'cabinets of curiosities' of the Renaissance and Early Baroque, eventually giving birth to the modern-day museum."
Image credits: Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), The Lacemaker (c.1669-70). Musée du Louvre, Paris © Réunion des Musées Nationaux/ Gérard Blot / Gold ewer from the toilette set for Emperor Franz I, c. 1750. © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna