For a fascinating account of the process which modern experts and institutions engage to authenticate works by Vermeer, see the first chapter –Problems – in Ivan Gaskell’s recent book, .

Here Gaskell outlines the "bewildering mixture of high scholarship and dealers,’ collectors,’ and publishers’ maneuverings to accompany …

On the other hand Vermeer specialists acknowledge there are at least six paintings described by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century sources that cannot be accounted for today, and these phantom Vermeers haunt the art world.

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The relatively thick impastos of the in 1656) while using a variety of signature formats.

All of these factors, combined with the dispersal of Vermeer’s paintings over time after his death, presented experts with a most difficult task of attempting to authenticate (and date) Vermeer’s work.

After the painting appeared in a 1969 show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Michael Kitson, an art historian with the University of London, endorsed its very tentative attribution to Vermeer. While a number of other scholars were skeptical about the attribution, Wheelock remained resolute in his belief about its authenticity.

But his recommendation became much more meaningful when, in 1986, the curator of Northern Baroque painting at the USA’s National Gallery of Art, Arthur K. During the heralded Vermeer exhibit held in Washington D. He marshaled both direct and inferential evidence to support his claim.

In the process they disproved his direct evidence and persuasively challenged his inferences.

Today, Wheelock stands virtually alone in maintaining the attribution.

discovery." He notes the difficulty inherent in Vermeer scholarship because there are so few historical facts to which Vermeer’s paintings can be compared and evaluated.

As a result, "Highly skilled scholars are tempted to draw inferences from what little there is.

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For nearly 200 years after his death in 1675, no one knew the extent of Vermeer’s oeuvre.