Johannes Vermeer

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Johannes Vermeer Photo

Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Dutch painters of the Golden Age, it is a travesty that Vermeer’s work was only discovered well after his death. Living in obscurity during much of his life as an artist, it took the world many years to stumble upon this Dutch artistic maestro. Now Vermeer’s name comes under the same breath as Rembrandt and Frans Hals. One reason which can be attributed to Vermeer’s obscurity is that he painted very selectively and for very few people during his time as an artist, to this date only 36 of Vermeer’s are known to many and it is stated that he only painted around 40 during his tenure as an artist. And it was only last year, in 2014 in fact where one of Vermeer’s earliest painting, the painting of Saint Praxedis, was discovered. Saint Praxedis was the auctioned off for around £8 million in London.

Not much is known about Vermeer’s private life, experts say that he was born somewhere around 1632 in Delft. Adding to Vermeer’s enigma is that no one knows who taught Vermeer art and if he ever taught art to anyone. Apart from certain religious paintings, he became known for his portraits of the middle class in domestic settings. Even though Vermeer worked very exclusively, he always used very rich and expensive pigments in his paintings. These gave the illusion of light to his paintings, a glow for which he became well known. Regarding Saint Praxedis, it is claimed by experts that Vermeer was only 23 when he painted it and had recently converted to Catholicism. He became heavily influenced by Italian art and this is clearly visible in Saint Praxedis, the way he has subtly shown the woman’s beauty in a delicate post. One of the reasons why Vermeer’s paintings are so sought after is because they are so rare, he is one of those very few artists who didn’t paint a lot in his life. There exist very few pieces of his work to be admired around the world.  Another similar painting of Vermeer’s is The Lacemaker, experts have argued for many years that the main subject matter in the painting was Vermeer’s wife but there has been no evidence to back this up. The painting is a fusion of morality and religion for it also features a Bible placed behind the woman figure who is working intricately on a piece of lace. Unlike most of his paintings, in this one the woman is not wearing working clothes and is seated on a very expensive sofa. The reason this is considered one of Vermeer’s masterpieces is because the way he has managed the capture the intense concentration on the woman’s face and the way her fingers are strewn together in the lace. The painting evokes feelings of intimacy, delicacy and warmth.

Perhaps no mention of Vermeer can be complete without his iconic painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Set against a dark background, the painting features a girl in working class attire with a pearl earring in one ear. Whats so magnificent about this painting is the expression on the girl’s face – it is in between melancholy and pensive. Johannes Vermeer used a perfect combination of colors to bring about the girl’s features giving her an almost saint like status.

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