ART: DUTCH TREAT

BUDGET POLITICS INTERRUPT BUT CANNOT DIM THE VISUAL MAGIC OF AN EPOCHAL VERMEER EXHIBITION

TWO OF THE CASUALTIES OF THE Republican Congress's petulant drive to shut down parts of the government have been--well, you'd hardly guess. Not only nine Cabinet departments and 38 federal agencies, commissions and boards, but the artists Winslow Homer and Johannes Vermeer.

Winslow Homer was, along with Thomas Eakins, the greatest American painter of the late 19th century. Vermeer of Delft was the greatest Dutch one of the late 17th century. Both are the subjects of extraordinary retrospective shows at the National Gallery in Washington. But because the Republicans' zeal to pressure Bill Clinton into signing their balanced-budget bill has closed...

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