Alongside, Rembrandt and Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer is considered one of the greatest Dutch painters. His works enjoy worldwide renown nowadays. They can be found in museums all over the world. Unfortunately, during his life he was less successful. His paintings remained mostly unknown until the end of the nineteenth century. Vermeer was a member of the painters’ guild in Delft. Most of his works were bought by a collector named Pieter van Ruijven. The exact number of his paintings is unknown. To this day, only thirty-six paintings can be attributed to him.
Johannes Vermeer was born in 1632 in the prosperous town of Delft. Apparently, the painter did not enjoy leaving his home town and seldom traveled. He underwent a six year apprenticeship. It is unknown who Vermeer’s master was. Some believe it may have been Leonaert Bramer of Delft. In 1653 he married Catharina Bolnes. They had fifteen children, out of which four died in infancy.
Vermeer’s early works focused on religion and mythology. After his conversion to Catholicism the theme of his works changed. He became interested in naturalistic effects and balanced compositions. His main sources of inspiration became domesticity and everyday life. He based his works on the lives of the people from Delft.
The painter intensely studies a domestic world ruled by women. His paintings reveal their different behaviors and postures. A Maid Asleep is probably the painter’s first painting inspired by the domestic life of Delft. Other paintings such as The Milkmaid and Young Woman with a Water Pitcher show a more mature style.
However, there are several paintings that stray from his usual style. The Little Street and A view of Delft focus on the city, rather than its inhabitants. Vermeer painted several works based on live models such as The Girl with a Pearl Earring. These were not meant as portraits, but rather collector’s items, because their characters were interesting and their costumes out of the ordinary.
Have you seen any of Johannes Vermeer’s works?
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