In Honor of Curator Walter Liedtke, Vermeer’s ‘View of Delft’ at the Mauritshuis is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

THE DAILY PIC: Liedtke studied Vermeer and his pals and the city they depicted.


THE DAILY PIC: I’m showing Johannes Vermeer’s great View of Delft, from the Mauritshuis Museum in the Hague, in memory of Walter Liedtke, a veteran curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who died in Tuesday’s Metro-North train collision near New York. (See Remembering Walter Liedtke, Metropolitan Museum Curator Killed in Metro-North Train Crash and Tragedy as Metropolitan Museum Curator Walter Liedtke Killed in Metro-North Train Crash.) Liedtke made a special study of the painters of Delft, including Vermeer, and of the architectural pictures they crafted. I never found out what he thought of my own arguments about the very special kind of up-close looking that those pictures implied and demanded; he probably thought I was full of it, but I hope that at very least he would have appreciated the idea that special kinds of looking is what great pictures are all about. He was a kind of hinge figure between old-school art history focused on who painted what, when (he wrote catalogs of the Met’s Flemish and Dutch holdings) and newer approaches that have tried to understand the social settings that affected what got painted by those people at those dates.

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