Rijksmuseum hosts largest ever Vermeer exhibition

STORY: The show gathers half the works that Vermeer, who died aged 43 and worked slowly, is thought ever to have painted and three-quarters of those that still exist. He likely never saw so many of his own works together at one time.

Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits said Vermeer was a man who lived with a large family and had a busy life as an art dealer, but still managed to obsessively refine works of quiet beauty, bathed in light rendered with almost photographic accuracy.

Alongside famed works like "Girl With A Pearl Earring" (1664) and "The Milkmaid" (1659), the exhibit features Vermeer's two known outdoor paintings, several large canvases, and a string of his portrayals of women -- including playing instruments, reading and working.

Museums in Germany, France, Japan, Scotland, Ireland, England and the United States contributed to the exhibition, which opens on Friday and runs until June.