Johannes Vermeer, commonly known as Jan Vermeer, was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. He lived from October 1632 to December 15th, 1675. He was known in Delft and The Hague during his lifetime as a fairly successful regional genre painter. He did, however, only create a small number of paintings, and it is clear he was not affluent as his wife and kids were left in debt after his passing.
Vermeer employed a lot of really expensive colors while working slowly and with great care. He is particularly well-known for the skillful handling and application of light in his work.
Hans Koningsberger noted that "almost all his paintings" were "probably set in two little rooms of his Delft home; they show the same furniture and furnishings in varied configurations and they frequently feature the same people, primarily ladies."
After his passing, his little celebrity faded into obscurity. He received scant mention in Grand Theatre of Dutch Painters and Women Artists, Arnold Houbraken's important reference work on 17th-century Dutch painting, and was consequently left out of later surveys of Dutch art for nearly two decades. Gustav Friedrich Waagen and Théophile Thoré-Bürger rediscovered Vermeer in the 19th century, and they wrote an essay attributing 66 paintings to him, albeit only 34 paintings are generally accepted as being his work today. Since then, Vermeer's standing as a painter has improved, and he is now regarded as one of the greatest of the Dutch Golden Age.
Vermeer never traveled outside of the Netherlands, just like other notable Dutch Golden Age artists like Frans Hals and Rembrandt. He was an enthusiastic art dealer and collector, just like Rembrandt.
Up until recently, very little was known about Vermeer's life. Living spent his life in Delft, he appears to have been wholly devoted to his work. Thoré-Bürger gave him the nickname "The Sphinx of Delft" because, up until the 19th century, the only sources of information were a few registrations, official records, and observations made by other painters. In his book Artists and Artisans in Delft: A Socio-Economic Study of the Seventeenth Century, John Michael Montias provided information about the family from the Delft city archives (1982).
Youth and Tradition
On October 31, 1632, Johannes Vermeer was baptized in the Reformed Church.
His mother, Digna Baltens, was born in Antwerp and lived from approximately 1596 to 1670.
Balthasar Geerts, or Gerrits, Digna's father, was a successful businessman who was once detained for forging currency. He was born in Antwerp in or around 1573.
Reijnier Janszoon, Vermeer's father, was a middle-class worker in the silk or caffa industry (a mixture of silk and cotton or wool). He was the son of Cornelia (Neeltge) Goris and Jan Reyersz. Reijnier was an apprentice in Amsterdam and resided on the posh Sint Antoniesbreestraat, which at the time was home to many local artists. Reijnier wed Digna in 1615. After relocating to Delft, the couple gave birth to a daughter named Gertruy, who was baptized in 1620. Reijnier engaged in combat with Willem van Bylandt in 1625; five months later, van Bylandt passed away from his injuries. Reijnier started selling paintings at this point. He rented an inn that he named "The Flying Fox" in 1631. He resided on either Voldersgracht 25 or 26 in 1635. He acquired a larger inn on the market square in 1641 that bore the name "Mechelen," after the Flemish town. The purchase of the inn came with a hefty financial burden. Vermeer took over management of the Reijnier family's art company after Reijnier passed away in October 1652.
family and marriage
Johannes Reijniersz Vermeer wed Catharina Bolenes, a Catholic, in April 1653. (Bolnes).
In the peaceful neighboring community of Schipluiden, the blessing took place. Maria Thins, Vermeer's future mother-in-law, was initially against the union because she was substantially wealthier than him. It was likely she who requested that Vermeer become a Catholic prior to the wedding on April 5. The fact that Vermeer's father owed a lot of money also didn't help while the marriage was being discussed. Maria dropped her objections as a result of Leonaert Bramer, a Catholic who himself spoke highly of Vermeer. Walter Liedtke, an art historian, claims that Vermeer's conversion appears to have been sincere. Between 1670 and 1672, he created The Allegory of Faith, a painting that placed less focus on the traditional realistic concerns of painters and more on symbolic religious applications, such as the Eucharist. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Dutch Paintings by Walter Liedtke claims that it was created for a scholarly and pious Catholic patron, maybe for his schuilkerk, or "hidden church." The pair eventually moved in with Catharina's mother, who maintained a pretty large home in Oude Langendijk, which was almost adjacent to a secret Jesuit church. Vermeer spent the remainder of his life in this residence, where he painted in the second-floor front chamber. Four of the 15 children he and his wife had were buried before being christened but were nonetheless included in the records as "children of Johan Vermeer." The wills of relatives have revealed the names of 10 of Vermeer's children: Maertge, Elisabeth, Cornelia, Aleydis, Beatrix, Johannes, Gertruyd, Franciscus, Catharina, and Ignatius. Many of these names have religious overtones, and the youngest (Ignatius) was probably given that name in honor of the person who founded the Jesuit order.
St. Luke Guildhouse replica on Voldersgracht in Delft
Where and with whom Vermeer trained as a painter as an apprentice are unknown. Based on a contentious interpretation of a document published in 1668 by printer Arnold Bon, it has been suggested that Carel Fabritius might have been his teacher. There is no concrete proof for this, according to art historians. Although they were friends, the local official Leonaert Bramer painted in a quite distinct manner. According to Liedtke, Vermeer allegedly educated himself using knowledge obtained from a contact of his father's. According to some academics, Vermeer studied under Catholic painter Abraham Bloemaert. In the backgrounds of numerous of his compositions, Vermeer's paintings feature paintings-within-paintings by some of the Utrecht Caravaggists, whose style is comparable to his own.
Egbert van der Poel's A View of Delft After the Explosion of 1654
Vermeer joined the Guild of Saint Luke, an organization for painters, on December 29, 1653. It is evident from the guild's records that Vermeer did not pay the customary entrance fee. There was a disease, a war, and an economic crisis that year; Vermeer was not the only one who had financial problems. The Delft Thunderclap, a devastating explosion that decimated a significant portion of the city, occurred in 1654. Pieter van Ruijven, a local art collector who gave him a loan in 1657, may have been his patron. It appears that Vermeer looked to the Leiden fijnschilders' work for inspiration. Vermeer was reacting to the market for Gerard Dou's paintings, who demanded astronomical sums for them. Gabriel Metsu and Pieter de Hooch might have have been influenced by Dou. Vermeer likewise demanded above-average rates for his creations, the majority of which were bought by an unidentified collector.
"He took a tumultuous reality and made it look like Heaven on earth," says one description of Delft (1660–1661);
Unmistakable examples of Johannes Vermeer's influence on Metsu include the marble floor and light coming from the left.
(A. Waiboer, however, contends that Metsu calls for a viewership that is more emotionally invested.) Vermeer likely faced competition from Nicolaes Maes, who created genre pieces in a similar vein to Vermeer's. Vermeer, like Bramer, was regarded as an established artisan by his contemporaries as evidenced by his election as head of the guild in 1662 and his subsequent reelections in 1663, 1670, and 1671. Vermeer created three paintings on average each year for orders, working slowly. When Balthasar de Monconys came to examine some of his work in 1663, Vermeer did not have any paintings to display. The diplomat was delivered to Hendrick van Buyten, a baker who had some of his paintings on deposit, along with the two French clergymen who were with him.
Gerrit van Uylenburgh organized the sale of Gerrit Reynst's collection in 1671 and gave Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, 13 paintings and a few sculptures as part of the deal. On Hendrick Fromantiou's recommendation, Frederick sent 12 of them back after accusing them of being fakes. Then, Van Uylenburg organized a counter-evaluation, asking 35 painters, including Jan Lievens, Melchior de Hondecoeter, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, and Johannes Vermeer, to comment on their veracity.
Death And War
Following Louis XIV and a French army's invasion of the Dutch Republic from the south (known as the Franco-Dutch War), the Netherlands experienced a catastrophic economic downturn known as the "Year of Disaster" in 1672. An English fleet and two allied German bishops assaulted the nation from the east during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, further devastating the nation. Courts, theaters, stores, and schools were closed as a result of the widespread panic. Before things changed, five years had gone. Vermeer was recognized as a guardsman for the city in 1674. Vermeer used his mother-in-property law's as collateral when he borrowed 1,000 guilders from Amsterdam silk merchant Jacob Romboutsz in the summer of 1675. Romboutsz is the great-grandfather of Hendrick Sorgh.
Vermeer, who was 43, passed away on December 15, 1675, following a brief illness. On December 15, 1675, he was laid to rest in the Protestant Old Church. In an appeal to her creditors, his widow later reported his death as follows:
He was not only unable to sell any of his artwork during the devastating war with France, but he was also left sitting with the works of other masters that he was dealing in, much to his great disadvantage. He fell into such decay and decadence as a result and due to the significant load of having no means of his own, which he had taken to heart, that in a day and a half he went from being healthy to being dead.
Catharina Bolnes blamed the burden of financial strains for her husband's demise. Vermeer's business suffered as a painter and an art dealer as a result of the fall of the art market. She pleaded with the High Court for relief from her payments to Vermeer's creditors since she had to care after 11 children. The trustee was Dutch microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a surveyor for the city council.  Eight rooms on the first floor of the house were listed in an inventory made a few months after Vermeer's passing, along with their furnishings. Two seats, two painter's easels, three palettes, ten canvases, a desk, an oak pull table, a tiny wooden cabinet with drawers, and "rummage not worthy of being listed" could all be found in his studio. Catharina and her mother received a bequest of 19 Vermeer artworks. Hendrick van Buyten purchased two more paintings from the widow in order to settle a sizable debt.
Vermeer had a solid reputation as a painter in his native Delft, but he was almost unknown elsewhere. The majority of his work was bought by a local customer named Pieter van Ruijven, which lessened the likelihood of his notoriety spreading. His small corpus of work was affected by a number of variables. Although one historian has proposed that Vermeer taught his eldest daughter Maria to paint, Vermeer never had any students. With so many children, his responsibilities to his family as well as operating the family businesses as both an innkeeper and an art dealer may have taken up most of his time. His production may have also been constrained by his time spent serving as the guild's leader and by his high level of painting precision.
Like most painters of his era, Vermeer may have first created his paintings tonally using either monochromatic shades of grey ("grisaille") or a constrained palette of browns and greys ("dead coloring"), which he would then cover with more saturated colors (reds, yellows, and blues) in the form of transparent glazes. Vermeer has not been conclusively identified with any drawings, and his paintings provide scant indications of his working process.
No other artist from the 17th century used the extravagantly expensive pigment lapis lazuli (natural ultramarine) so early in his career or in such a luxurious manner. The earth colors umber and ochre should be viewed as warm light within a painting's brilliantly lighted interior, which reflects its numerous colors onto the wall. Vermeer employed this color in more than just naturally occurring materials. In doing so, he produced an universe that was more flawless than any he had ever seen. Most likely, Vermeer's comprehension of Leonardo's discoveries that every object's surface shares its neighboring object's color served as the inspiration for this working style. Because of this, no object is ever completely seen in its natural color.
The Girl with the Wine Glass makes effective use of natural ultramarine in a manner that is analogous to but even more amazing. The red lake and vermilion mixture added on top of the natural ultramarine underpainting gives the shadows of the red satin dress a somewhat purple, chilly, and crisp effect that is quite striking.
Vermeer continued to liberally use natural ultramarine even after his alleged financial collapse in the wake of the so-called rampjaar (year of disaster) in 1672, as shown in works like Lady Seated at a Virginal. This would imply that Vermeer received materials from a collector, which would support John Michael Montias' hypothesis that Pieter van Ruijven served as Vermeer's patron.
Except for two cityscapes and two allegories, Vermeer's works are mostly genre pieces and portraits. His subjects provide a representative sample of Dutch life in the seventeenth century, ranging from the depiction of a humble milkmaid at labor to the richness and splendor of wealthy notables and merchantmen in their stately homes. Aside from these topics, his writing also contains observations on religion, poetry, music, and science.
Vermeer's precise painting method included his choice of colors as one element.
The Milkmaid), lead-tin-yellow (A Lady Writing a Letter), madder lake (Christ in the House of Martha and Mary), and vermilion are among his most well-known uses of these extremely expensive colors. He also used azurite, bone black, and ochres in his paintings. Later pigment analysis refuted the assertion that he used Indian yellow in Woman Holding a Balance.
Only roughly 20 colors have been found in Vermeer's work. Vermeer frequently used lead white, yellow ochre, vermilion, madder lake, green earth, raw umber, and ivory or bone black out of a total of 20 colors.
theory of mechanical assistance
Given their almost photorealistic attention to detail, despite Vermeer's lack of formal training, and despite the scant evidence that Vermeer produced any preparation sketches or traces for his paintings, Vermeer's painting methods have long been a topic of discussion.
In his 2001 book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, British artist David Hockney asserted that Vermeer, along with other Renaissance and Baroque artists like Hans Holbein and Diego Velázquez, used optics—specifically, a combination of curved mirrors, camera obscura, and camera lucida—to achieve precise positioning in their compositions. After Hockney and Charles M. Falco, another supporter of the theory, this became known as the Hockney-Falco thesis.
In the 2001 book Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces, Professor Philip Steadman made the particular assertion that Vermeer had used a camera obscura to produce his paintings. Six of Vermeer's paintings that Steadman discovered are exactly the proper size if they were painted from within a camera obscura in the room's rear wall. Steadman remarked that several of Vermeer's paintings had been painted in the same room.
The often-discussed shimmering pearly highlights in several of Vermeer's paintings, which proponents claim are the consequence of halation caused by the primitive lens of a camera obscura, are cited as proof by those who support these hypotheses. Another theory put out was that The Music Lesson (London, Royal Collection"exaggerated" )'s perspective was mechanically caused by a camera obscura.
The idea that Vermeer had employed a camera obscura and "comparator mirror," which is conceptually comparable to a camera lucida but more simpler and makes it easier to match color values, was invented by American businessman and inventor Tim Jenison in 2008. Later, he simplified the theory so that it just required a concave mirror and a comparator mirror. The technique was documented in the 2013 documentary film Tim's Vermeer. He then spent the following five years proving his theory by attempting to recreate The Music Lesson himself using these tools.
Jenison made a number of arguments in favor of this method, starting with Vermeer's incredibly precise depiction of light falloff down the wall. In an interview with Jenison, neurobiologist Colin Blakemore points out that human vision is unable to absorb information about a scene's precise brightness. Another was the insertion of various highlights and contours that matched the chromatic aberration effects, which are particularly evident in early optics. Finally, and maybe most importantly, the scrollwork on the virginal has a distinct curvature in the original artwork. This appearance, which was produced by accurately replicating the view as viewed via a curved mirror, matched Jenison's technique to the letter.
This hypothesis is still debatable. Vermeer's interest in optics is not supported by any historical evidence, with the exception of the carefully observed mirror reflection above the lady at the virginals in The Music Lesson. There is no mention of a camera obscura or any other similar apparatus in the exhaustive inventory of the artist's possessions prepared after his passing. However, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the modern lens, was close to Vermeer and served as his executor following his death.
Additionally, take a look at Category:Johannes Vermeer and List of Johannes Vermeer paintings.
Only 34 of the less than 50 paintings Vermeer created have survived. The Procuress (1656; Gemäldegalerie, Dresden); The Astronomer (1668; Musée du Louvre, Paris); and The Geographer (1669; Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt) are the only three Vermeer works that bear his signature.
The Procuress, a 1622 oil on canvas by Dirck van Baburen, which may be seen in the background of two of Vermeer's paintings, was once held by Vermeer's mother-in-law Maria Thins. Vermeer also painted the same topic. Vermeer painted modern subjects almost exclusively in smaller formats, with a cooler color scheme dominated by blues, yellows, and grays. The majority of his still-existing works are from this time period and typically feature household interiors with one or two persons illuminated by a window on the left. A pearly light unites them and gives them a sense of compositional harmony and spatial order. Simple household chores or leisure pursuits acquire a poetic timeless quality (see Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Dresden, Gemäldegalerie). The two townscapes by Vermeer, View of Delft (Mauritshuis, The Hague) and A street in Delft, have also been dated to this time (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum).
Some of his paintings, which some people believe to be examples of his latter works since they exhibit a certain hardening of manner. The Love Letter and The Allegory of Faith, both from this era (c. 1670; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), are notable examples (c. 1670; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).
Initially, for two centuries following his passing, Vermeer's artwork was generally disregarded by art historians. His work was appreciated by a small group of art lovers in the Netherlands, but despite this, many of his creations were mistaken for those of more well-known artists like Metsu or Mieris. When German museum director Gustav Waagen saw The Art of Painting in the Czernin exhibition in Vienna, he immediately recognized it as a Vermeer even though it was then credited to Pieter de Hooch. This was the beginning of the Delft master's modern rediscovery. Théophile Thoré-investigation Bürger's culminated in the 1866 Gazette des Beaux-Arts publication of his catalogue raisonné of Vermeer's paintings. Thoré-catalogue Bürger's featured more than 70 pieces by Vermeer, many of which he believed to be questionable, and brought attention to him on a global scale. Currently, 34 paintings by Vermeer are considered to exist.
Simon Duiker, among other well-known Dutch artists, based his work's style after Vermeer's was rediscovered. Vermeer also served as a source of inspiration for American painter Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Danish artist Wilhelm Hammershoi. Salvador Dal was one among Vermeer's followers in the 20th century. He painted his own rendition of The Lacemaker (on the collector Robert Lehman's request), and in some surrealist experiments, he set the original against a rhinoceros. The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table, by Dali, published in 1934, likewise honored the master.
A 20th-century Dutch painter who followed the classical style was named Han van Meegeren. Before turning himself in for forgery to avoid being charged with capital treason for collaborating with the Nazis, specifically by selling what had been mistaken for original artwork to the Nazis, he became a master forger, inspired by a combination of aesthetic and financial reasons, creating and selling many new "Vermeers."
On the evening of September 23, 1971, Mario Pierre Roymans, a 21-year-old hotel waiter, took Vermeer's Love Letter, which was on loan from the Rijksmuseum to the Fine Arts Palace in Brussels for the exhibition Rembrandt and His Age.
On November 12, 2021, Google will honor Vermeer with a Google Doodle to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the start of an exhibition highlighting his work at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Both literature and movies have made reference to Vermeer and his reputation and creations.
Vermeer's production of the well-known painting and his connection with the equally fictional model are fictionalized in Tracy Chevalier's 1999 book Girl with a Pearl Earring and the 2003 film of the same name.
Numerous artists have been influenced by the well-known painter; for instance, the gourmet photographer Aimee Twigger uses Vermeer's chiaroscuro as inspiration for her culinary adventures.