What Makes the Property-Brokering, Painting-Hoovering Art King of Tribeca so Unusual? He’s a Genuinely Good Guy

First, some backstory. Travis has been a gallery whisperer for the past decade—and he’s only 36 years old. He’s the visionary who helped transform Tribeca into New York’s new art-world mecca, where some 50 dealerships are packed tightly within five blocks below Canal Street, making it the city’s biggest art district after Chelsea. Dealers who’ve worked with him uniformly described him as “genuine” and “trusted.” Even among his real estate competitors, the worst they could say is that he’s too perfect (good hair, gorgeous girlfriend, adorable pooch, extensive art collection, and an Instagram account documenting it all).

The commercial real estate broker is personally responsible for onboarding at least half of Tribeca’s gallery population, including Andrew Kreps, Bortolami, James Cohan, and Canada. In the past month alone, he locked in spaces for dealers Alexander Gray, Nino Mier, and Lio Malca.

But the biggest feather in his cap, by far, is persuading the esteemed Marian Goodman Gallery to take a long-term lease on a 30,000-square-foot, five-story building (not counting a basement and rooftop) on Broadway, where the annual rent is just shy of $2 million. The first blue-chip gallery to establish its headquarters in Tribeca, it was just the kind of an anchor the area needed to solidify its growing reputation.


Jonathan Travis in front to 385 Broadway in Tribeca, the future home of Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo: Katya Kazakina.

Jonathan Travis in front to 385 Broadway in Tribeca, the future home of Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo: Katya Kazakina.

“Everyone who knows him says the same thing: He’s a good guy,” said Malca, the latest dealer to rent a ground floor in Tribeca thanks to Travis. “He’s a straight shooter. He loves art. He is sincere and hard working. I see him at gallery dinners. I see him at openings. No one knows the area as well as he does.”

That this all sounded too good to be true—and, believe me, covering the art market for as long as I have can make you cynical—was front of mind when I headed downtown on a snowy night last month to the New York Academy of Art for a dinner celebrating its winter exhibition “Eye to Eye.” Travis curated the show, selecting works by student artists, who, in turn, chose paintings from Travis’s collection. The event was attended by the likes of Alexander Gilkes—art investor, auctioneer, and Maria Sharapova’s baby daddy—and Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Ian Alteveer. Travis, sporting a fuzzy, color-block sweater and a perfectly groomed beard, gave a brief speech about his passion for art.

I had questions. How does someone this young amass 300 artworks, many by today’s hottest emerging artists such as Emily Mae Smith and Julie Curtiss? Were they kickbacks from his gallery clients? And what about that Wolf Hill Arts residency he founded during the pandemic in a six-bedroom house in Westchester, where he now lives? Is it a tax write-off? Is he a flipper? Beyond that, what’s in the cards for the Tribeca art district? What’s the next frontier he plans to monetize?

Travis eagerly agreed to meet up the next morning for coffee, suggesting La Colombe on the corner of Church and Lispenard Streets, the northwestern corner of his kingdom that encompasses five blocks to Leonard Street and from West Broadway to Cortlandt Alley. I downed my double-espresso and looked north, where you could almost make out SoHo’s cobblestone streets.

Installation view, "Fernanda Laguna, Welcome to my show in New York!!!!!! Bienvenidos a mi muestra en Nueva York!!!!!!" at Bortolami, The Upstairs, New York, NY, 2022.

Installation view, “Fernanda Laguna, Welcome to my show in New York!!!!!! Bienvenidos a mi muestra en Nueva York!!!!!!” at Bortolami, The Upstairs, New York, NY, 2022.

The past three years have been a blur in Tribeca, with the number of galleries more than doubling in the area. Travis’s ‘aha moment’ came the day when Canada, James Cohan, and Andrew Kreps all had their inaugural openings in September 2019.

“It felt like a block party almost,” Travis said. “And the difference between that energy and Chelsea’s energy was palpable. It felt mellower. It felt younger. It felt more relaxed. People were drinking and smoking weed in the streets. That was the first moment where I was like, ‘Oh shit. Something cool is happening here.’”

It was long coming. In 2013, Travis was a rookie broker with just one year in the field when he spotted an article about struggling Chelsea midsize galleries. It quoted art dealer Casey Kaplan, whose lease was coming up. Travis contacted Kaplan and found him a bigger, less expensive space in the Flower District. The dealer then introduced Travis to Anton Kern and he got him a 24-year lease on East 55th Street. Next came Alexander and Bonin and Bortolami, who both moved to Tribeca. The rest is history.

“Now it’s all self-evident,” said Andrew Kreps. “He was really able to sell, early on, galleries on moving here. He had relationships with landlords. He knew places on the market, places that could be on the market. He genuinely cares about art and art world.”

Travis often gets a whiff of available storefronts before they are officially listed by walking the streets and cold-calling landlords. Some deals may take a couple of months, others years to come to fruition. Often it’s a mix of luck and shoe-leather.

(Galleries pay on average around $20,000 to $23,000 a month for a standard 4,000-5,000-square-foot ground-floor space that often includes a free—and insurable—basement of the same size that can be used for exhibitions, storage, or offices.)

Installation view, "Firelei Báez, Americananana" at James Cohan, 48 Walker Street.

Installation view, “Firelei Báez, Americananana” at James Cohan, 48 Walker Street.

Marian Goodman is a case in point. Travis knew the landlord of 385 Broadway from being in the neighborhood. During the pandemic, the previous tenant, a co-working company, lost its funding and had to vacate the premises as a result of litigation, Travis said. The landlord promised that Travis would be his first phone call when he was able to rent it again. He kept his word.

Meanwhile, the gallery was looking for a new space as its midtown home since the 1980s became endangered by a nearby highrise construction. An appraiser mentioned this to Travis, reconnecting him with the gallery. In the end, the gallery signed a 10-year lease at a relative bargain price of $60 per square foot, compared with the current range of $95 to $120 per square foot for ground floor, Travis said, explaining that rent is cheaper on upper floors and the gallery will only have 5,000 feet on the ground. The landlord is additionally throwing in 14 months of free rent. (Typically, a 10-year lease would get you six to eight months of free rent.)

Perhaps naturally for someone spending so much time in gallery settings, talking to dozens of art dealers on a regular basis, Travis caught the art bug—and began acquiring paintings at a rapid clip. His collection has about 300 works, mostly figurative. He keeps about half of his trove in his house in Chappaqua, New York; more than one hundred works sit in storage, and the rest are with his parents.

Travis pointed out that he gets paid by landlords, not galleries, and he doesn’t have to barter for art.

“I go to clients, and I’m like, ‘Hey, let me help you find a space. And you don’t have to pay me,’” he said. “It’s an easy value proposition.”

Altogether, it’s an approach that, unsurprisingly, makes him friends in the gallery sphere. “He comes across as the least likely real estate broker you ever met,” said James Cohan. “He’s genuinely interested in art and has collected extensively. He has our best interests.”

Installation view, "Hadi Falapishi, Almost Perfect" at Andrew Kreps Gallery, 22 Cortlandt Alley, New York Photo: Lance Brewer.

Installation view, “Hadi Falapishi, Almost Perfect” at Andrew Kreps Gallery, 22 Cortlandt Alley, New York. Photo: Lance Brewer.

Travis bought the house in Westchester during the pandemic as an investment with a friend, Ethan Rafii, in part to use it as a platform to showcase art.

“It’s a big old space,” he said. “I was so entrenched in the art world at that point that I wanted to come up with more ways to utilize my relationships and my network to support young artists.”

The residency itself is located 36 miles south, in Long Island City. It’s a studio an artist gets to use for three to four months. The resulting works are shown at the upstate house, Travis said, where he tries to sell them and connect the artists to galleries and collectors. He splits the proceeds 50/50 with the artists, uses some of the funds to cover the costs and the rest to donate to the charities of the artist’s choice, he said.

In the beginning of the pandemic, when his business stopped for three months, Travis turned to his collection, selling works by coveted young artists like Curtiss and Smith “to get through,” he said. “I don’t have a salary, so if my deal flow stops, my income stops.”

He now spends hours looking through PDFs, going to see shows, sending emails to dealers, and talking to artists—with the same obsessive intensity as he looks for available spaces in Tribeca.

It’s a blessing and a curse. “If you ask my girlfriend,” Travis said, “I get very wrapped up in what I am doing. I can tune out others.”

Same goes for his newer hobby: curating. Last week, 1969 Gallery opened a show called “Who Is Your Master?” curated by Travis and Rafii, co-founders of Wolf Hill. It included 14 international artists, exploring the cultural traditions and individuals who have shaped their journeys. The opening was mobbed, judging by the photos Travis posted on Instagram.

The duo worked hard on the show—”25/8″ is how Quang Bao, the gallery owner, described their approach from the get-go. “I wonder sometimes if they really have full time jobs.”

“It’s not a real estate broker curating a show,” Bao added. “This is a collector with a nonprofit trying to introduce 14 international artists to the world.”

That doesn’t sound like a cutthroat real estate schemer, price manipulator, art speculator, or any other fascinating art villain. It sounds, sigh, like a really nice guy.

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Mets Fans! Wear Your Hats Tomorrow and Get Free Admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

With Opening Day just around the corner for Major League Baseball, it’s time for New York Mets fans to dust off their hats and show some team pride—and get free museum admission.

The team has officially declared Saturday, March 25, to be the first annual Amazin’ Day, a citywide celebration of the team fondly known as the Amazin’ Mets since their unlikely first World Series victory in 1969. The day includes a number of events and activities, but lovers of both art and baseball will be happy to know that donning their favorite Mets gear will get them free entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—both the Fifth Avenue and Cloisters locations—all day.

The first 500 people clad in Mets orange and blue can also get the same perk at the Brooklyn Museum (sans entrance to the special Thierry Mugler exhibition).

Normally, general admission to the Brooklyn Museum is $16. The Met raised its adult ticket price from $25 to $30 in July, but allows New York State residents and students from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to pay what they wish.

The Mets Hat. Photo courtesy of Gabi Manga.

The Mets Hat. Photo courtesy of Gabi Manga.

No word on whether fans have to be wearing official MLB merchandise, or if the beloved “The Mets Hat”—a delightful mashup of the logos of the team and the similarly named museum—will be enough to score you complimentary entrance to either institution. (The hat’s creator, Gabi Manga, has been rumored to be in touch with the Mets about making the cap—which he sells to benefit charity—available at Citi Field, the team’s stadium in Flushing, Queens.)

The Mets are coming off their second-best regular season in franchise history, with 101 wins—shy only of the 1986 World Series-winning team. The 2022 squad failed to clinch the division in the final days of the season, however, and lost in the first round of the playoffs, leaving fans hungry for another chance at postseason glory.

Mets owner Steve Cohen, a major art collector, had a busy offseason, picking up pricey player contracts—acquiring Justin Verlander, new deals for Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Edwin Díaz—as if they were blue-chip trophy artworks. The team’s payroll leads the league at $336 million, leaving crosstown rivals the New York Yankees in a distant second at just $268 million.

With star closer Díaz already suffering a season-ending injury during the recent World Baseball Classic, it remains to be seen if this year’s Mets will have what it takes to end a 37-year championship drought. But for true Mets fans, hope springs eternal—especially now that there’s Amazin’ Day to celebrate.

UPDATE: Met senior vice president of external affairs informed Midnight Publishing Group News that any and all team merchandise, official and unofficial, will count toward free entry. “It’ll be a super generous interpretation,” he wrote in an email. “Any gear, and strong left hand relievers are welcome too! LGM!”

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Celebrities, Collectors, and A-List Artists Turned Out in Force for the City’s First Art Basel Since 2019

Pharrell Williams was spotted at this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong. Artist Rashid Johnson posed with fans, as did Beeple and Takashi Murakami. Qatar Museums chair Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani was out on the event circuit. Not to mention a number of top collectors from around the globe: London-based Saudi-born Abdullah AI-Turki, Switzerland’s Uli Sigg and Maja Hoffmann, and Mima Reyes from Puerto Rico.

Despite reports of the city’s decline in recent years, Hong Kong remains one of the most convenient places for the art world to conduct business. Its unique geographical location makes it an ideal place for dealers and clients to connect, particularly those from across Asia, and, of course, there’s the high concentration of wealth.

This year, some visitors reported attending upwards of two-dozen events, from gallery openings to parties and dinners—and few complained about their hectic schedules.

“It feels like there are more events and things are a lot more elaborate this year than the pre-Covid times. So many art world stars are here in Hong Kong,” curator Wong Ka Ying, who is also an artist, told Midnight Publishing Group News.

Art advisor Thomas Stauffer, co-founder of Gerber and Stauffer Fine Arts in Zurich, shared a similar view. This was the first time he had returned to Hong Kong since the last Art Basel in the city in March 2019. “It’s a packed week and many galleries and luxury brands compete with each other to get the attention of the Hong Kong art crowd. It’s been a fruitful and rewarding trip to re-engage and continue the dialogue about collecting art with our Asian clients after not being able to meet in person for more than three years,” he told Midnight Publishing Group News.

The ecstatic atmosphere felt by both the international art crowd and local players on the ground, whether at fairs like Art Basel or Art Central, dinners and parties at M+ or the HKGTA Town Club, a new hotspot right in the heart of the city’s Central district, is an important statement that the city is ready to re-emerge onto the global scene after years of the pandemic and political unrest.

“Hong Kong is back,” as many collectors visiting the city told Midnight Publishing Group News.

art basel hong kong 2023

An art installation called ‘Solitude of Silences’ by South Korean artist Gimhongsok is displayed at Art Basel in Hong Kong on March 23, 2023. Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images.

A star-studded, international week

The return of prominent mainland Chinese collectors such Qiao Zhibing, founder of Tank Shanghai; entrepreneur Chong Zhou; Lu Xun, co-founder of Nanjing’s Sifang Art Museum; and fashion entrepreneur Li Lin have delighted a lot of gallerists. Many Mandarin-speaking tour groups packed the aisles during the first VIP day, and there was no lack of a well-dressed Gen-Z crowd.

Stauffer observed that works by Western artists such as Emily Mae Smith, Derek Fordjour, and Bernard Frize have been popular among the Asian crowd, and sales are moving quickly. Many dealers have noted  throughout the fair week, particularly for artworks in the price range of $100,000 to $500,000.

“We see less Europeans and Americans coming to the fair. It’s a very cultured scene, mostly dominated by the mainland Chinese, who are able to travel for the first time since Covid, as well as South Korean collectors. There are some Japanese and Southeast Asians too,” Tian Liang, director of Asia at Timothy Taylor, told Midnight Publishing Group News.

This is the London-headquartered dealer’s first show with Art Basel Hong Kong since 2018. The gallery has so far sold works to institutions in Asia and private collectors in the range of $50,000 to $1 million, including an Alex Katz portrait to a museum in the region, Liang noted. The gallery also brought British painter Leon Kossoff to Asia for the first time, and successfully sold the work to private collectors in the region.

“There’s so much energy, and there are so many young, educated, strong collectors who really know what they’re looking for and are deeply engaged with art history,” she said. “Art Basel Hong Kong is the future; I think it’s going to be the most important fair in the world in five years.”

Hong Kong 2023 M+

HONG KONG, CHINA – MARCH 21: Guests attend Prada Frames Hong Kong at M+ Museum, on March 21, 2023 in Hong Kong, China. (Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images for Prada)

“M+ is A+”

Among those who traveled from across Asia include collectors Marcel Crespò and Timothy Tan from the Philippines. Sources on the ground also spotted Korean collectors such as SM Entertainment founder Sooman Lee, JaeMyung Noh, and So Young Lee. There’s also a prominent presence of Taiwanese collectors including Leo Shih, Jenny Yeh, and Vickey Chen.

Art Central’s director, Corey Andrew Barr, noted that the prominence of young collectors in their 30s to 40s speaks volumes about people’s interests in Hong Kong. “There’s been a great anticipation for finding out what’s been going on in Hong Kong, like M+ and other institutional developments in the city since they were last here in 2019,” he told Midnight Publishing Group News. “They will certainly have the experience to connect with Hong Kong art and Hong Kong artists more intimately.”

Indeed, art fairs are not the only attractions of the art week. Many have praised the art programs the city has to offer, particularly at M+, which only just welcomed international visitors for the first time since it opened in 2021. “M+ is A+,” remarked Noh.

Seoul-based dealer Jason Haam, who sold out four works by Korean rising star Moka Lee, priced between $43,000 to $60,000, to collectors from Hong Kong, Korea, and Belgium, said he did not go to the parties but he was impressed with the museums. “M+ is the very first, really top-notch, serious institution in Asia. It makes me so proud to be in this part of the world,” the dealer said.

He urged the West to rethink one narrative about the Asian art market. “It’s really upsetting for me to hear people pit Hong Kong against [other Asian cities]. Hey, Europe has Paris, Berlin, and London. The U.S. has Los Angeles and New York. There are many hubs in the West.”

Hong Kong veteran gallerist Catherine Kwai of Kwai Fung Hin, which sold paintings by Li Huayi and Lalan in the region of HK$5 million to HK$6 million ($636,955 to $764,346) to new Asian clients, noted that she felt Hong Kong has transformed, and M+, together with other new institutions, including the Palace Museum and the revamped Museum of Art, have played a key role in drawing a serious international art crowd to Hong Kong.

Kwai also praised the government’s effort in staging the Museum Summit on March 24 and 25, which brings global museum leaders such as Michael Govan, CEO of LACMA, Klaus Biesenbach, director of Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, and Gallerie degli Uffizi’s director Eike Schmidt, as well as museum directors from Thailand, Singapore, and mainland China.

“For a few years Hong Kong was very quiet and people did not visit. Now people are returning, and we are very happy,” Kwai told Midnight Publishing Group News. “The past few years have taught us that we must not take things for granted. Everyone is trying very hard this time.”

Tsang Kin-Wah

Freezing Water: Between Here and There (2023) by Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin-Wah, a new work on show at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Courtesy of the artist.

Breathing room

To a younger Hong Kong generation emerging from the trauma of the political turmoil after the 2019 pro-democracy protests and the imposition of the national security law the following year, the vibrancy of the art week gives provides a breath of fresh air away from  it all. Persecution of dissidents, a crackdown of civil society, and censorship of creative expressions continue to operate in the backdrop, but many appreciate the opportunity for to feel “normal” again.

Stanley Wong, 32, a finance columnist who writes under the pen name Muddy Water, started collecting three years ago, while stuck in Hong Kong, and has already assembled a collection of some 200 works mostly by homegrown artists. This year’s art week is his first as a collector. He already acquired at least five artworks this week.

“It feels like things are back to normal this week, reminding me of the good old days,” Wong told Midnight Publishing Group News.

He noted that some people’s feelings of helplessness have pushed them to adopt a more pleasure-seeking attitude towards life. The past two years saw the rise of the local Canto-pop culture and fine dining when restaurants re-opened, and the new focus on contemporary art is also a result of that, he added.

”Art becomes an avenue of emotional release,” he said. “But this also gives us an opportunity to discover the many great artists from Hong Kong.”

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Nepali Officials Claim Works on Display at the Art Institute of Chicago Were Stolen + Other Stories

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Thursday, March 23.


Heiress Sues Pearl Lam Over Banksy Work – Karen Lo, an heiress of Hong Kong beverage empire Vitasoy International is taking the prominent gallery owner to court, alleging that Lam did not deliver Banksy’s 2005 painting Show Me The Monet that she had purchased for £500,000 ($613,000) from her. Lo accused Lam of falsely representing that she had bought the work on Lo’s behalf, according to court documents. (Reuters)

Ezra Chowaiki on the Art World’s “Gorgeous Cesspool” – In this first person account, the New York art dealer who was sentenced to prison for wire fraud dishes the dirty secrets in the art business and life behind bars. “The business is so secretive, and so opaque, that even though lies and fraud are rampant, no one gets in trouble,” he wrote. (Airmail)

Questionable Works Donated to Chicago Museum – Some 24 objects in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Alsdorf collection were found to have incomplete provenance by today’s standards according to a national online registry of museum pieces, including four that were believed to have been stolen from Nepal and exported illegally. The Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign is seeking repatriation of the artifacts but they believed that the Art Institute is stalling the process. (ProPublica)

Expo Chicago Launches Blockchain App – Blockchain company Valence has teamed up with the Chicago fair to launch Valence Wallet, a new app that will allow collectors to purchase works and other services, including certificates of authenticity, insurance, shipping, and payment documents. (ARTnews)


Liverpool Biennial Announces Program – Running from June 10 through September 17, the 12th edition of the biennial will be staged across the port city in northern England at new sites and venues including the historic buildings of Tobacco Warehouse and Cotton Exchange, as well as shopping mall Liverpool One, in addition to existing cultural venues. The full program comes with free events and performances. (Press release)

Pace Takes on Estates of Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen – The mega-gallery will now exclusively represent the late artist duo and Pop Art pioneers. A major exhibition featuring Oldenburg’s drawings and sculptures along with a catalogue raisonné is slated for 2024. (ARTnews)

NADA Gets New Members – 18 galleries from 5 countries have joined the New Art Dealer’s Alliance ahead of the ninth edition of the NADA New York art fair this May. The new members include Marta (Los Angeles), The Watermill Center (Water Mill), Storm King Art Center (New York), O Gallery (Tehran), Xxijra Hii (London), and Saenger Galería (Mexico City). (Press release)

London Assembly Calls for New Statue of the Queen – City Hall politicians have unanimously agreed that a new monument honoring the late monarch should be erected in a “prominent, public location.” Earlier proposals suggested using the Fourth Plinth as a site of the monument. (Evening Standard)


We Want This Rose Wylie Streetwear – The celebrated British painter has teamed up with art marketplace Platform to launch a limited edition “ugly” hoodie featuring a screenprint of the artist’s work Black Cat (Bones) (Study). A total of 150 hoodies will go on sale on April 4. (Surface)

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Did Vermeer Have a Daughter Who Painted Some of His Most Famous Portraits? This Art Historian Thinks So

For centuries, art lovers have wondered at the identity of the sitters in Vermeer’s beloved masterpieces. To the shock of many scholars, one expert has suggested that Girl with a Red Hat (c. 1669) may in fact be a self-portrait by the artist’s daughter Maria. Furthermore, she could be responsible for several of the Dutch master’s best known works, according to a new report by author Lawrence Weschler in The Atlantic.

These claims were first published in art historian Benjamin Binstock’s controversial 2008 book Vermeer’s Family Secrets. The theory was dismissed out of hand by mainstream Vermeer specialists, but with the recent discovery that Vermeer’s Girl With a Flute (c. 1669/1675) in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. may actually be the work of an unidentified apprentice, some scholars are starting to reconsider the facts.

Often intentionally provocative in his writing style, Binstock has gained a reputation for taking an unfashionably connoisseurial approach to the history of art, openly interrogating long-accepted attributions by reassessing the works’ style against what we know about the artist’s life. Unsurprisingly, endeavors like these have tended to rile up the establishment and push Binstock to the very fringes of mainstream academia.

By first attempting to identify the various models that reappear in Vermeer’s works and in doing so, reshuffling their sequence slightly (most of Vermeer’s works have a wide range of possible dates), Binstock believed he had brought to light new inconsistencies in both chronology and style especially towards the end of Vermeer’s life. Although these unreviewed claims remained hypotheses, Binstock felt comfortable stating them as fact.

Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1664–67, oil on canvas. Mauritshuis, The Hague. Bequest of Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, The Hague

Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1664–67, oil on canvas. Mauritshuis, The Hague. Bequest of Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, The Hague.

Born in 1632, Vermeer had his first daughter Maria in 1654. According to Binstock, she replaced his wife Catharina as his main model around a decade later, beginning with Woman With a Pearl Necklace (c. 1666) and eventually starring as the subject of Girl With a Pearl Earring (1670). These dates, and most others given by Binstock in this article, are the subject of some debate among scholars.

During the 1670s, Binstock’s narrative diverges substantially from the accepted timeline, with his claim that Maria also began working as her father’s assistant and studying his methods. He designated both Girl With a Flute and Girl With a Red Hat as early self-portraits by Maria on account of their more awkward, amateurish style as much as their compositions. Neither painting has a fixed date, and Binstock opted for 1672 to align with Maria’s late teenage years.

The scholar has also attributed works like the Met’s Study of a Young Woman (1672) and both the Frick’s Girl Interrupted at Her Music (1673) and Mistress and Maid (1673) to Maria, arguing that they constitute a pastiche of the considerable skill shown in Vermeer’s greatest masterpieces.

Girl with a Flute, Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1669-1675. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Flute, (ca. 1669-1675). National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Finally, Young Women Seated at a Virginal (1674) had at one time been contested as a Vermeer but was eventually authenticated only after it was found to be painted on a canvas cut from the same cloth as The Lacemaker (also 1674). Another possible explanation for this would be if the work was by someone working closely with the artist and sharing both his materials and style.

No assistant has ever previously been associated with Vermeer, but this assumption is now being reconsidered thanks to the National Gallery of Art’s reattribution of Girl With a Flute. According to Binstock, artists at the time were not required to register their children as apprentices with the painters’ guild, which may explain the lack of a surviving record. A possible reason why Maria then stopped producing paintings after her father’s death in 1675 could be her marriage in 1674, after which she left the Vermeer household.

We’re highly unlikely to ever have a definitive answer on Maria’s possible involvement in Vermeer’s oeuvre, and the stakes of reattributing paintings are high as much for the holders of these priceless masterpieces as the scholarly reputations involved. Nonetheless, as Vermeer attracts renewed interest with a historic survey at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Binstock is still hoping that his theory might finally receive some serious critical attention.

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