Johannes Vermeer infused harmony and light into his visual form
He never explained any of his work, allowing the viewer to create contemplations of their own to highlight an increased personal significance which is why his work continues to engage observers.
Johannes Vermeer, also commonly known as Jan, was a Dutch artist known to be one of the most beloved painters in the history of the Arts. Although very little is known about him, and only about 36 of his works are present to date, these rare paintings are considered to be among the rarest treasures placed in the world's most high-class museums. Biblical scenes have navigated his work and much of representing views from daily life in indoor settings. He is credited mainly for depicting purity, light, and form that present an elegant quality and timelessness to his paintings.
"A 17th Century Start"
Johannes Vermeer was born in October 1632 in the Netherlands – a place that was prospering in the mid 17th Century due to the wealth it enjoyed from its thriving delftware factories and multiple breweries. In addition to being an art dealer, Vermeer's father was a weaver employed to make a fine fabric known as Caffa. In 1641, the family was wealthy and stable enough to buy a large house with an inn that Vermeer inherited and the art dealing business in 1652. Although very little is known about his decision to become a painter, in 1653, Vermeer registered in the Guild of Saint Luke as a painter; however, this period of his life remains unknown to the most.
"A cloudy experience"
The stylistic characteristics and brushwork noticed in Vermeer's paintings bear similarity to those of Rembrandt. The pictorial traditions followed by Rembrandt are found in Vermeer's mythological and biblical work, such as Diana and her Companions, which was painted in 1653. During the early years of this decade, critics presume that Vermeer could have found inspiration in his city of Delft, which was experiencing artistic shifts and transformations. Beginning with painting biblical depictions in the late 1650s, Vermeer started to present scenes from daily life, and these are the very works he is associated with the most.
It is said that this influence came from Gerard Terborch, another artist who rendered domestic activities, and this may have been the encouragement Vermeer needed to follow the same path. This influence is evident in Vermeer's earliest works, known as Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, painted circa 1659. Terborch's paintings were made in a darker light with characteristically spooky interiors; however, Vermeer's work portrayed these daily scenes in a radiant glow.
"A period of stability and maturity"
The decade of the 1650s was an incredibly productive era for Johannes Vermeer. With an enormity of fame and good reputation, Vermeer produced many of his greatest works, most of which depicted scenes from the indoors. At the time, no other contemporary Dutch artist used this level of luminosity and light in his painting. At the height of his popularity, Vermeer gained fame and recognition in his native city of Delft and was also betrothed as the head of the painter's guild in the year 1662.
During the time, Vermeer's paintings have been known to hold emotional power, which allowed him to transform any view from the world into a timeless visual expression. In his View of Delft, made circa 1661, he portrays his city from the harbor view with sunshine illuminating from behind the tower of NieuweKerk, thus showing a depiction of reality within. This same pattern became his point of recognition and was seen in most of his paintings that have been preserved to date.
"Greater work ethics"
Unlike the work done by his counterparts, Vermeer's most prominent feature of work is his portrayal of luminosity. He was well versed in the optical effects of color, which can be seen clearly in The Milkmaid made in Circa 1660. Some have argued that Vermeer's paintings were so luminous because he traced these images from the back of a camera obscura; however, this is highly unlikely as the painter majorly relied on traditional perspectives to depict a sense of space and heaviness within his paintings. His attention to detail is an exuberant portrayal of his creative renditions, making him spend long hours on each piece to compose them in a manner he wanted.
"Later years and clarity of work"
In 1670, Vermeer's style became sharper, depicting more atmospheric clarity than his work from the previous decade. He began to use more sharply defined color palates and angles of rhythm to convey more emotion in works such as Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid, which was painted in 1670.
Towards the end of his life, Johannes Vermeer's financial stability began to stagger as his fortunes fell due to the political condition of Holland, followed by an invasion by French troops in 1672. Upon his death in 1675, Vermeer left behind his wife and his 11 children.
"Vermeer's Final Legacy"
Although Vermeer's works and paintings did not receive widespread fame in his lifetime, the period after his death, he has brought forth a small group of connoisseurs from Amsterdam and Delft who admired his work. By the start of the 19th Century, Vermeer's work reached more audiences when the French painter and critic Étiene-Joseph-ThéophileThoré, who used the pseudonym William Burger released vivid and artistic descriptions of Veneer's work in the year 1866. This led to the public recognizing his work more as it began to reach more and more audiences. This was followed by a time when private collectors and museums began to buy Veneer's rare art pieces, and the prices of his work increased tremendously by the start of the 20th Century. This led many artists such as Han Van Meegeren, to forge Veneer's work in the 1930s. In 1995, at an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Arts in Washington DC, Veneer's painting 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' made in circa 1665 became Veneer's most famous and recognized pieces of art and one that he is mostly affiliated with today.
His remarkably small oeuvre has only increased in fame across the years. He infused harmony and light into his visual form. He never explained any of his work, allowing the viewer to create contemplations of their own to highlight an increased personal significance which is why his work continues to engage observers still as much as it did in the 17th Century.