Here's the assignment: Recreate a painting that doesn't exist, based only on a description jotted down centuries ago. And also: Make it look like a Vermeer.
That's the starting bell for a Dutch reality TV show, in which two professional painters and dozens of amateur artists compete to reinvent the lost works of the 17th-century master. The results are judged by Vermeer experts from the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum in Amsterdam, and from the Mauritshuis, a collection of old masters in The Hague.
The show, "The New Vermeer" ("De Nieuwe Vermeer"), which began on Feb. 12, is timed to coincide with a blockbuster exhibition of the painter's work at the Rijksmuseum, featuring the largest collection of his works ever shown. But the hourlong TV show is aimed, in part, at viewers who might not feel comfortable walking into a museum.