Seventh Art Blog

“My Lifetime May be Finite, But My Curiosity is Infinite”

by: Phil Grabsky

Filming the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum for Vermeer: The Greatest Exhibition.

Hi! Here are just some of the reviews that have just come out for this exhibition:


It’s a miracle. Unmissable – The Guardian

Unmissable – ArtNet

Don’t miss it! – AOL

Momentous, dizzying, unrepeatable – The Financial Times

Breathtaking – A once-in-a-lifetime experience – The Times

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – American Magazine

The biggest Vermeer exhibition of this, or any other, lifetime – CNN

There will never be another Vermeer show as great as this one – Washington Post

One of the most thrilling exhibitions ever! – The Observer

A blockbuster – CNN

Practically perfect- A show more precious than pearls – New York Times


I don’t know about you but those alone would make me want to get on the next Eurostar to Amsterdam and queue for tickets (if it’s not sold out already).

We, however, had a privileged look before it opened.  This kind of access doesn’t come without a lot of work but, after a couple of years staying in contact with our friends at the wonderful Rijksmuseum, a few days ago, we entered the building as the sole camera team given access to fully film the show – all 28 iconic Vermeer paintings – 75% of his entire existing oeuvre.  No-one has ever had so many Vermeers in one place – not even him. And it is spectacular.

The museum curators and teams have done a really tremendous job of the hang – details like the background wall colour, the curtains that hang down, the positioning of the wall captions, even the modest size of the shop, all these things are, in my opinion, spot on.  But it’s the paintings that sing out.  I had the luck to look at each of them on my own – you, if you go, will have many other folk around you but it won’t take long to find a position to look into the paintings and the storytelling that lies within.

I had the privilege too of having six great experts to interview and, honestly, it was so interesting I could have talked to each one of them for the entire day.  I read a phrase the other day which rang true with me: ‘my lifetime may be finite, but my curiosity is infinite’.  They say Vermeer is a man of mystery, ‘The Enigma of Delft’.  Well, actually, there is a lot that can be said, a lot that can be surmised, and a lot that can be divined simply from looking hard at the paintings.

We didn’t finish filming until the early hours – and then went back in the next day for more.  We’re busy editing now to get the film out to cinemas from 18th April.  My advice?  See the film then see the show, then see the film again….Vermeer is worth it.

Oh, and by the way, while I was there, I did a podcast with Tracy Chevalier (writer of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING).  Check it on our the podcast, Painting of the Week: https://seventh-art.com/podcast/


Phil Grabsky and Tracy Chevalier stand in front of ‘Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window’, Vermeer (c. 1657–1659).

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