Vermeer Is Alive and… Well, Painting Again!

The largest ever collection of Vermeer paintings unveiled in blockbuster show – CNN

The art world is all aflutter and even atwitter at the recent opening of the largest collection of Vermeer paintings ever assembled, happening at the famed Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  Throngs are flocking and flocks are thronging to gawk at the 28 masterpieces on display.

 However, this event has overshadowed what may be an even bigger story occurring in the Dutch city of Delft some 37.9 miles away – where the painter himself Johannes Vermeer, dead for 348 years, has returned to life and is painting again.

 I caught up with him at a Starbucks in Delft on Van Leeuwenhoeksingel where his newest paintings are being displayed. 


Mr. Vermeer, you’re looking very well for being dead since 1675.

 Well, I was only 43 when I died and the years since have been kind to me. You know, I fathered 11 children, which is probably what sent me to an early grave.

With climate change, the pandemic and war in the Ukraine, why come back to life now?

Every era is challenging.  In fact, the year I died the Franco-Dutch war was raging, the plague in Malta began, and the pocket watch was invented which people had to wear around their wrists until pockets were invented two years later.  This seemed like the right time to come back.  There are so many scenes in modern life that I needed to capture.  You just don’t see those sorts of things lying in a casket.

Can we discuss some of your latest paintings displayed here on the Starbucks walls?  Like the one of the girl sitting at a restaurant table. It’s there by the ”Starbucks Employee of the Month” Placard. 

 Yes, that one I call “Girl with a Pearl Earring Leaving a Yelp Review.”

It’s incredibly detailed but her face is rather neutral.  Is she leaving a good or bad review?

I left some clues. The single strand of hair in the butter.  The schmutz on the fork. The Beef Stroganoff without a single bit of Stroganoff in it. You tell me. 

A bad review, I’d say.  How about the one next to it, the woman standing by an open window?

That’s entitled “Woman in Blue Holding a Restraining Order.”  If you look carefully out the window, you’ll see a man in sweatpants wearing an old Oakland Raiders jersey standing the required 500 feet away.  I spent a lot of time getting her triumphant but wary look just right. 

I particularly like the one of the man in a hat watching television but texting at the same time.

I’m very proud of that one. That’s “Man in a Red Bucket Hat Texting His Netflix Password to a Friend.” You’ll notice that the red hat is the same color as the Netflix logo on the TV screen. By the way, that’s an 84” Samsung TV, the same one I got at the Dutch Costco in Duivendrecht.

And your last painting over there… it looks like a woman with a Starbucks cup.  

Starbucks commissioned that.  It’s called “Woman in Ballet Slippers Holding a Venti Triple Shot/Double Pump/Extra Hot/Soy Milk Cappuccino.” That one I had to completely redo because I’d originally painted it as “Woman in Ballet Slippers Holding a Grande Double Shot/Single Pump/No Foam/Skinny Latte,” which I didn’t think captured her essence.

One final question. Will you continue living and painting or are you planning to become deceased again?

Difficult to say. I find living tedious because there are far too many people who want to tell you their life stories–and who has the time or patience for that?  But I do enjoy painting as well as the egg, Gouda and bacon sandwiches they serve here at Starbucks.  And even though death is tempting — being one of the only things in life that lasts and that you can truly count on — I do have one final masterwork to finish. 

And what is that?

A rather topical self-portrait. I call it “Vermeer as George Santos Painting Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch.'”   Once I complete that and finish the last season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” I’ll go dead again.  At least till next time. 

The Vermeer Exhibition runs at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam until June 4. The other Vermeer Exhibition at the Starbucks in Delft on Van Leeuwenhoeksinge runs until the start of Pumpkin Spice Latte Season.

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