The International Art Critics’ Association, an organization most valuable for its widely accepted press pass, annually asks its members to choose the past year’s best exhibitions. Nineteen ninety-five had many contenders in the category of “painting or sculpture exhibit in a museum”: the retrospectives of Cézanne, Mondrian, Brancusi, and Monet, in this country and in Europe, for starters; Goya at the Met or the Anthony Caro retrospective at the new Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. For sheer rarity, however, there is only one choice: the Johannes Vermeer exhibition jointly organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague. Astonishingly enough, this is the first show ever dedicated exclusively to the acclaimed Dutch master. In a triumph of curatorial diplomacy, this small but comprehensive exhibition assembles almost two thirds of the authentic paintings by...


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