Daily Archives: August 9, 2009

The Masters’ Keeper: Going Dutch with Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr.

Examiner-cover-Wheelock

Late in 1995, National Gallery of Art curator Arthur K. Wheelock was looking forward to unveiling the exhibit of his career. Johannes Vermeer brought together 22 of the enigmatic Dutch genius’s 35 known paintings. Three centuries had passed since the last time so many Vermeers could be seen in one place.

“That was something nobody ever thought would be possible,” Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, says from his office in the Gallery’s East Building, with a view of the Capitol Dome. “You couldn’t get the loans.” And yet, after eight years of negotiations with museums and private collectors throughout the U.S. and Europe, he was about to make it happen. It would be the apex of a career that began when he’d penned his dissertation on Vermeer more than 20 years earlier. Continue reading

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Wheelock’s Greatest Gets

Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Bagpipe player in Profile, 1624

Hendrick Ter Brugghen, Bagpipe player in Profile, 1624

When Arthur Wheelock came to the National Gallery of Art in 1973, its collection was a far cry from what it is today. Marine paintings were all but absent. There were no still lifes. Nothing from the group of Italian-influenced Dutch painters known as the Utrecht Carvaggisti.

Wheelock has spent much of his 34-year tenure as a curator filling those gaps. In the last two years, he’s scored major acquisitions of Dutch masterpieces by Salomon van Ruysdael and Hendrick ter Brugghen. Here he discusses some other favorites among the pieces he’s added to the nation’s art collection, all currently on view. Continue reading