Be Old World! The Frick Says “Vaarwel” to Dutch Masters Exhibit

“You looked inside me…”
Griet to Vermeer in Girl with a Pearl Earring


Yesterday morning, on one of the coldest days in New York, most sensible New Yorkers were at home in bed curled up with The New York Times and enjoying their morning coffee. Not me. I joined hoardes of others outside in the freezing cold to catch the last glimpse of the traveling exhibition of The Dutch Masters.

The Frick reports that interest in this exhibit has been very high, thanks to the best-selling new novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, in which the little birdie plays a key role. The painting wasn’t in town for long — it’s on loan from the Hague — and people were clamoring for a look-see before the exhibition closed Sunday and “The Goldfinch” flies back to the Netherlands.

The painting’s three-month run, part of a traveling exhibition of Dutch masters, has smashed the Frick’s attendance records. It’s estimated that, by last night, some 200,000 people will have visited the museum since “The Goldfinch” swooped into town in late October. According to The Frick, epic queues have been snaking down East 70th Street, along Fifth Avenue and up 71st Street since the exhibition opened.

Funnily enough, “The Goldfinch” wasn’t supposed to be the star of the exhibition. Another painting, Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” was expected to be the big headliner. That painting was also the subject of a best-selling book, and later a 2003 Scarlett Johansson movie.

However, most museum-goers, especially those who have read “The Goldfinch,” say that seeing the painting is worth the trouble.

As for the paintings, they are on their way to The Hague in the Netherlands right now as I write this. If you want to view them, you’ll have to book a plane ticket to Amsterdam (which is actually a good thing).

Many people consider these to be bucket-list viewings, and I can now check these two off of my list. I did not read The Goldfinch book yet, but I did purchase an autographed copy at the bookstore and will soon see what all the fuss is about. Stay tuned!


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