Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Art & History Feature - Johannes Vermeer

NaBloPoMo #25

I'm proud to announce that today's post is written by my multi-talented niece Rebecca. Rebecca is a sophmore in an art program in her high school. She is also a brown belt in shotokan karate. I would like to thank  you Rebecca for introducing us to Johannes Vermeer.

Johannes Vermeer
 Johannes Vermeer. That’s probably not the first name that comes to mind when the Dutch Golden Age is mentioned. And wrongfully so. Johannes Vermeer was one of the greater 17th century Dutch painters, with a style that was unique and-dare I say it-superior to other Dutch masters such as Rembrandt or Frans Hals.

The Girl With a Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer was born in 1632 in the city of Delft, in the Netherlands. He was born to middle class innkeepers and prominent silk weavers. His father was a member of the St. Luke’s Guild, and this is from where Vermeer would acquire his knowledge of art.
Vermeer married Catherine Bolnes, a wealthy Catholic woman. She modeled for him in a number of paintings. He was inspired, due to his marriage to a Catholic, by great Italian artists like Caravaggio. Some of his paintings show Catholic influence through biblical and classical mythological themes. These paintings also show inspiration from the Italian Baroque style. 

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Vermeer’s painting style was heavily reflective by his being a realist painter, showing mastery of techniques such as chiaroscuro. Vermeer created a majority of his paintings in the 1660’s. This was a period of financial struggle for him, and it comes through in his work, being very intense. Some of his masterpieces during this period took up to three years to complete. During this period, Vermeer experimented with a number of unique and complex techniques of composition.

Young Woman With a Water Pitcher

One especially noted technique that he developed was the use of the camera obscura. The camera obscura was a primitive form of a camera, which captured an image and projected it upside down, and though it had been around for a while, not many artists took advantage of it and furthered their work with this tool as Johannes did. Vermeer would take the image, and trace over it with incredible accuracy. This sort of perspective was very unusual in Vermeer’s time, but he appeared to have mastered it, even blurring out certain objects, just as you would see in a photograph. He took delight in the use of various lenses and contraptions to find new ways of capturing light. Though this is a bit like cheating, Vermeer added so much to the photographs-you have to remember that they weren’t the fantastically precise digital images of today, instead, being grainy and black and white. His use of color was bold and innovative.

The Astronomer
The Geographer
The 1670’s were a fantastic move forward in his works, developing new methods and using light and shadow to define space. Sadly, his death cut his excelling career short in 1675, when he died of a stroke.
It is quite odd to hear that during his lifetime, Johannes Vermeer was not very famous or revered. Although his works were beautifully made, it is believed that he only produced about 74 works, although today only 37 are accounted for. He gained modest celebrity, but was soon forgotten after his death. Vermeer lay forgotten for nearly two centuries. In the 19th century, however, his work was rediscovered, and since then his reputation has grown so much so that he is now considered one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. And rightfully so.

The Milkmaid

As a true artistic revolutionary of the Baroque era, his works made even the most ordinary household experiences into beautifully, intensely composed masterpieces.


  1. YAY Rebecca! Thanks so much for sharing this artist with us. I've seen his work before, but never knew about his life. I hope we get to see more guests posts from you - and maybe even your own blog - in the near future. I especially would love to see your art work featured on a blog, since you are SUPER talented! :D

  2. Yes, I absolutely would love to feature Rebecca's art work with her permission on this blog!


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