Johannes Vermeer (who was also known as Jan) was baptised on 31 October 1632 in Delft, Netherlands. He was buried 16 December 1675 in Delft. Vermeer was a Dutch artist who masterminded paintings that are among the most beloved – as well as revered – images in the history of art. Although only about 36 of Vermeer’s paintings survive, these rare works are among the finest treasures in the world’s best museums.
The Beginning Of His Career
Vermeer started his career in the early part of the 1650s by painting large-scale biblical as well as mythological scenes. However, most of his later paintings — the ones for which he is most famous —depict scenes of daily life in interior settings. These works of art are remarkable for their purity of light and form, which are qualities that convey a serene, enduring sense of dignity. Vermeer also painted cityscapes and allegorical scenes.
It is unclear where – and with whom – Vermeer apprenticed as a painter. There is some speculation that Carel Fabritius could have been his teacher. This thought is based on a controversial interpretation of a text which was written in 1668 by printer Arnold Bon. Art historians have uncovered no hard evidence in order to support this.
Local authority, Leonaert Bramer, was as a friend however their style of painting is quite different. Liedtke makes the suggestion that Vermeer taught himself utilising information from one of his father’s connections.
Some scholars are of the opinion that Vermeer was trained under Catholic painter Abraham Bloemaert. Vermeer’s style is very similar to that of some of the Utrecht Caravaggists, whose works are portrayed as paintings-within-paintings in the backgrounds of a number of his compositions.
Working Methods Of Johannes Vermeer
Perhaps the most recognisable feature of Vermeer’s best paintings is their luminosity. Technical examinations have shown that Vermeer usually applied a grey or ochre ground layer over his canvas or panel support in order to establish the colour harmonies of his composition.
Vermeer was keenly aware of the optical effects of colour. He produced translucent effects by applying thin glazes over these base layers or over the opaque paint layers which defined his forms.
Furthermore, his works seem to be infused with a sense of light as a result of his usage of small dots of unmodulated colour — as in the aforementioned buildings as well as the water of View of Delft, and in foreground objects in other works, for example the bread in The Milkmaid (c. 1660) and the finials of the chair in Girl with the Red Hat (c. 1665/66).
The diffuse highlights that Vermeer achieved are comparable to those which are seen in a camera obscura, which is a fascinating optical device that operates much like a box camera. The 17th-century camera obscura formed an image by allowing light rays to enter a box through a small opening which was sometimes fitted with a focusing tube in addition to a lens.
Owing to the device’s limited depth of field, the image it projected would have many unfocused areas that were surrounded by hazy highlights, much like when watching the hoses run in bad weather. Vermeer was seemingly fascinated by these optical effects, and he used them to give his paintings a greater sense of immediacy.