Sunday, October 11, 2009

Milkmaid at the Met Museum

Met museum of artFriday morning began with rain, so I, along with thousands of others, herded into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I find the Met both deeply inspiring & just plain exhausting. I've been visiting since I was a kid, but I've only seen a few parts of the collection. & every time I come back, the museum seems to have gotten bigger!

This day I decided to let someone else keep me focused, so I joined a couple of docent-led tours. In the morning I viewed the Ancient Near Eastern Art gallery with an over-eager group of visitors, including an English couple & an eccentric older gentleman with a German accent. When the docent suggested that a lovely pendant figure of a goat depicted the animal dead, the German fellow remained skeptical & thought we should all vote as to whether the animal was supposed to be dead or alive.

After a late afternoon coffee in the American Wing Courtyard, I visited the small exhibit highlighting Vermeer's Milkmaid, generously on loan from the Rijksmuseum. It is brought together with the 5 other Vermeers owned by the Met. Even surrounded by its peers, it stands out glowingly. The painting is small, & one has to jockey continually for a position closer to it. The rich blue of the apron & the red of the dress are quite unlike any of the reproductions. I enjoyed being able to discern details like the tan line on the woman's forearm & the yellow edge of her rolled-up sleeve. The only thing I was unclear about is the white shape between her foreshortened right arm, the pitcher & her blue apron. Perhaps it is a dishcloth.

The Milkmaid is supplemented by additional images & commentary to support the curator's theory that the painting is not simply about domestic virtue, but also suggests the sexual availability of the kitchen maid.

The museum is open late on weekends, & the balcony above the Great Hall was turned into a cocktail lounge, complete with a small salon band. I was amused to find something called a "Clearance Shop" inside the museum. No art works were being deaccessioned at bargain prices. Instead, they stocked the first Christmas items I've seen for sale this year.

3 comments:

sfmike said...

What's "Ancient Near Easter Art"? Are they depictions of Good Friday crucifixions?

Axel Feldheim said...

Whoops...Nothing like the having one's typos proofread by the Web!

Actually, I find the Met's label "Ancient Near Eastern Art" kind of odd sounding itself. You certainly won't see many crucifixions. It's all very pagan!

sfmike said...

Oh, good. I love pagan and hate crucifixions, and always have.