The Paintings of Jan Vermeer

The Paintings of Jan Vermeer

The Paintings of Jan Vermeer

The Paintings of Jan Vermeer

Synopsis

"Since the paintings of Vermeer were rediscovered at the end of the nineteenth century, they have been the subject of much speculation, fascination, and conjecture. With full-page color reproductions of each of Vermeer's paintings, this monograph will prove indispensable to the reader who wishes to discover the artist and his work, as well as to the scholar seeking a new and insightful reading on the subject."

Excerpt

The curious case of Jan Vermeer of Delft is one of the inexplicable mysteries of the history of art. He has passed by acclamation into the company of the great masters of pictorial art, on the strength of a meagre total of some forty pictures, most of which are tiny in dimensions. We know little about him beyond what those pictures disclose; though scholars have searched incessantly during the past fifty years for any scrap of further information concerning so notable a figure.

On October 31st, 1632, he was baptised in Delft, where he was born. When he was twenty-one he married Catherina Bolenes who survived him with eight children, all under age, when he died on December 13th, 1675. Admitted to the local guild of painters in 1653, he became their steward in 1662 and again in 1663 and 1670, and was elected Doyen in 1671. He seems never to have quitted Holland for a day during all his forty-three years of life, and never resided outside his native city.

Two relevant archives were discovered and published by Abraham Bredius in 1885. The earlier is a power of appointment by his mother-in-law, Maria Tens, executed in 1673, nominating him with full trust" to look after certain monetary interests of her son, Willem Bolenes. The other is an inventory of the scanty property left in his dwelling and that of his mother-in-law on his death. We do not possess a single letter addressed to or written by him. There has been much conjecture as to who could have been the teacher of so accomplished a painter. The work of Pieter de Hooch and of Samuel van Hoogstraten may well have influenced him. Two portraits by Hoogstraten hung in his house. But Carel Fabritius, his townsfellow, who joined the guild the year before his own entry, is in all probability entitled to that credit. Vermeer owned three of his pictures. Bleijswijck, in his description of Delft, includes a poem on the death of Fabritius, in the last quatrain of which he declares that Vermeer rose from the fire that consumed the former phoenix, to move like a master on the same course. Those who have admired the tiny panel by Fabritius, depicting a gold-finch on its perch, which hangs close to Vermeer "Head of a Young Girl" in the Mauritshuis at the Hague will surely have traced a technical as well as a spiritual affinity between them. Theodore van Baburen of Utrecht probably also exercised a potent, if indirect, influence upon Vermeer. His, picture "The Procuress", now in the Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam, is unmistakably reproduced in Vermeer "Lady at the Virginals" of the National Gallery and in "The Concert" of the Gardner Museum at Boston. Vermeer own "Procuress", of the . . .

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