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JOHANNES VERMEER- The Sphinx of Delft- (Part II)

Paintings have a visual appeal. It becomes more interesting when we know the background of the art or the artist or some interesting facts about the painting or the artist.

This is my endeavour to put forth some context on the paintings I post on the website through this blog post. This final and second installment in the blog is about the artist Vermeer. My painting of The Girl with a Pearl Earring is inspired by his original painting of the same name.

Almost all of Vermeer's paintings are of contemporary subjects in smaller formats dominated by blues, yellows, reds, and greys. All his surviving paintings belong to this period with domestic interiors with one or two figures lit by the window on left. Mundane domestic or recreational activities are imbued with a poetic timelessness. To name a few are:

  1. The Milkmaid.

  2. Girl reading a letter at an open window.

  3. A Girl Asleep.

  4. The Girl with the wine glass.

  5. Girl with Pearl earring.

  6. Officer with a laughing girl.

  7. The wine glass.

  8. Girl interrupted at her music.

  9. The Lace Maker.

  10. Woman reading a letter.

  11. The Music Lesson.

  12. Woman with a Pearl necklace. 

Vermeer- The Milkmaid-Oil on canvas- (17.9x16.1 inches)

Vermeer- The Girl with the wine glass Oil on canvas-(30.7x26.7 inches)

Vermeer- Girl with Pearl earring Oil on canvas- (21.4x17 inches)

Vermeer- The Music Lesson-Oil on Canvas (29.1x25.4 inches)

Vermeer- The Lace Maker Oil on canvas- (9.6x8.31 inches)

Two of his paintings "View of Delft, and "A Street in Delft" is townscapes. 

Vermeer- View of Delft- Oil on Canvas- (38x45.6 inches)

During the 1650s plague broke in Netherland, and the city of Delft was not spared. The disaster and economic crisis were so severe that Vermeer did not pay the usual admission fee when he became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke.

In 1654 Delft suffered a terrible explosion known as the "Delft Thunderclap" In October 1954, a cellar in the horse market at Paardenmarkt the city government housed 80,000 pounds of gunpowder which were caused by an inspector with a lantern. It injured a thousand and hundreds of people dead including painter Carel Fabritius. It destroyed hundreds of wooden homes.   

The year 1672 was considered as the "Year of Disaster" after Louis XIV and a French army invaded the Dutch Republic from the south and English Fleet and two allied German bishops attached Netherland from the east causing more destruction. The country was devastated and courts. Theaters. Schools, shops were closed. It took no less than 5 years to improve the situation.

Vermeer was badly hit with no sales and commissions coming in. In the summer of 1675, Vermeer borrowed 1,000 guilders in Amsterdam from Jacob Romboutz, a silk trader using his mother in laws property as a surety.

In December 1675, Vermeer died after a short illness leaving his family in debt. Catharina Bolenes attributed her husband's death to the stress of financial pressure. The collapse of the art market damaged Vermeer's business both as a painter and an art dealer. She had to raise 11 children and therefore asked the High Court to relieve her of debts owed to Vermeer's creditors.

Upon the rediscovery of Vermeer in 1860, Vermeer's work was admired and was influenced. His style inspired Dutch artists including Simon Duiker, Danish painter Wilhelm Hammershoi, American painter Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Salvador Dali was immensely inspired and Dali painted his own version of "The Lacemaker". Dali immortalized Vermeer in his "The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft which can be used as a table"

Salvador Dali -The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft which can be used as table- Oil on panel -7.12x5.5 inches

Salvador Dali- The Lacemaker-Oil on canvas-(9.25x7.75) inches.

Vermeer's reputation and his works have featured in both literature and film such as "Girl with a Pearl Earring" which is a fictional depiction of Vermeer's creation of the famous painting and his relationship with a fictional model.

*Source: Wikipedia

                Google Art Project.