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Unearthing "Jacobus Vrel": un petit-maître, un intimiste, a painter buried in histories

Dufort, Danielle; (2019) Unearthing "Jacobus Vrel": un petit-maître, un intimiste, a painter buried in histories. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This dissertation explores the art-historical construction of Jacobus Vrel. Apart from his inclusion in an important seventeenth-century collection, the only documents that attest to Vrel’s life are the paintings attributed to him, which today, number roughly forty. The first moment in Vrel’s recovery occurred in the 1860s when some of his paintings became entwined with the emerging oeuvre of the recently “rediscovered” Johannes Vermeer. While attributed to Vermeer, Vrel’s paintings were appreciated as “truthful” depictions of everyday life that appealed to romantic sensibilities. Following the reassessment of Vermeer’s oeuvre in the 1890s, Vrel was “reconstructed” in his own right; however, his reputation would decline. The French art historian Clotilde Brière-Misme, who carved a niche for herself writing on a number of Dutch petits-maîtres during the mid-twentieth century, attempted to establish Vrel a master of Dutch “intimisme”, a genre that she believed spoke especially to the modern viewer. Until the latter part of the century, Vrel would remain overlooked as a follower of better-known artists, and even considered an amateur by some. More recently, there has been renewed interest in Vrel as a marginal artist whose paintings seem to resist mainstream methods of art-historical analysis. The first two chapters look at the historical archival materials, Vrel’s “discovery” during the romantic period, and at the modernist episode under Brière-Misme. The third chapter considers recent contributions that focus on the visual language of Vrel’s paintings, placing them in psycho-analytical and reception-based frameworks, while also considering the recurrence of devices, such as the Rückenfigur and the “melancholic” pose and the conventions to which they can be related. Appended to the thesis, is an “open-ended” catalogue raisonné which, rather than seeking to define Vrel’s “authentic” oeuvre, traces the histories of the pictures as “Vrels” and as “works by others” and presents his oeuvre as a variorum.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Unearthing "Jacobus Vrel": un petit-maître, un intimiste, a painter buried in histories
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10072795
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