My New York Vermeer Adventure

Vermeer - Girl with a water pitcher.
Vermeer – Girl with a water pitcher.

I’ve postponed this post, waiting for the Met to get back to me about whether I can post photos taken in the museum on my personal blog, but I’m going to say, that since I am not selling anything, or posting photos of a special exhibit, or posting photos of art, saying I painted the pictures, I imagine this should be OK. Should I get a nasty email, I’ll remove the post. Meanwhile, here is the completion of my Being Vermeer adventure!

If you recall, I started here, with the realization that I simply must create an outfit based on this Vermeer painting. Things really fell into place and I’m quite pleased to report that I was able to create an outfit pretty darn close to the one in the painting. To celebrate, we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where the painting is displayed in their regular collection.

You know what’s really funny? Taking the subway in a 17th Century dress. To complicate matters, my skirt had a train, because it’s just more dramatic that way. And, I used a bum roll to support the back of the dress, which was fairly common at the time so I was really taking up quite a bit of real estate on the train. Could have been worse. In college, I made a reproduction 1860’s dress that was nearly five feet in diameter. I wore that on the bus and took up three seats. I may decide to remove the train at a later date. Meanwhile, I cleaned all the floors at the Met.

After walking around a bit, we finally made our way to the gallery where the painting lives.

With Vermeer at the Met.

Here I am in my Vermeer dress in front of the Vermeer painting. Once I had a chance to look at the photo, I realize that I should have had my arm over a bit and my body turned forward. My hood covers a little too much of the bodice and probably can do with two inches cut off. There’s nothing I can do about being somewhat larger than the model but I might add a little width to the bodice so it lies a little flatter in the front and comes together better. But, all things considered, there is no doubt that it’s the same outfit from the painting so mission accomplished!

With Vermeer and Frank at the Met.

Here Frank and I are in our Marriage of Arnolfini pose, which is the painting we used on our wedding programs coincidentally. You know how all the ladies look pregnant in paintings from the Renaissance? Well, they’re not. There is so much gathered up fabric in the skirt that unless you’re super trim, you are going to look like you’re smuggling kittens. In this photo, you can see there is a whole lot of skirt going on.

I took off the hood for this one because it was a little warm in the museum and because I didn’t starch it, it sort of flopped over my face.

Again, this photo really helps with seeing the bodice. I’ll need to slightly adjust the black trim since I placed it a little too low. Part of the issue is that I could really use a dress body to work with. It’s hard to sew and adjust when you only have yourself to work with. Fixing it will be very delicate work and I’m debating whether it’s worth possibly ruining the bodice.

After we took photos we walked around our favorite places in the Met, eventually ending up in the American wing. I could spend hours in the American wing. There are thousands of chairs, sofas, armoirs, beds, and other household items on display.  If you’ve never been to the Met’s American wing, it’s set up like a house where each floor represents a segment of colonial and Federal domestic interior decoration. It starts with late 17th Century on the top floor and ends with Federal on the main floor. Other period rooms, modern and European, are displayed in other areas in the museum.

We just happened to come across this window and since it sort of had the look of Girl Reading a Letter, I had Frank take a photo. I’m am so pleased with how it came out.


And here I am, “reading” a map of the museum because it’s all we had on hand. I’d like to try again; this is very dark. We have a restaurant here in Philly that has the perfect window for this setting as well as the best Monte Cristo sandwich in existence. There is also a historic house open for tours that has a period piano I can take a photo in front of replicating the music lesson painting.

Period room photography at the Met.

All in all, not bad since we took the photos with our phones and didn’t take hours to pose or rearrange the settings. It has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to wearing the dress at the Ren Faire this year.


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