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Vermeer

  • Burnt
  • 9 February 2020
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JOHANNES VERMEER (1632-75) THE FINEST EXPONENT OF GENRE ART IN HOLLAND IN THE 17TH CENTURY. HIS USE OF THE CAMERA OBSCURA WAS REVOLUTIONARY AS WAS HIS ABILITY TO CAPTURE DOMESTIC SCENES OF LOVE AND BETRAYAL DEPICTING SOME VERY BEAUTIFUL IMAGES WHICH RESONATE TODAY: AN APPRECIATION OF HIS GENIUS AND CRAFTSMANSHIP: PART 1

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In this post I am going to consider the talents of the great Dutch painter from Delft Johannes Vermeer who Art Historians over the years have had difficulty in pinpointing the type of Art he was engaged in. There is no doubt that he was firstly a Genre painter of Domestic scenes.

RH Fuchs  in his book on Dutch Painting  compares him with Honthorst another Dutch  or Flemish painter.

” In fact an early picture by Vermeer (Officer and Laughing Girl) shows a striking similarity to Honthorst’s procuress and not only in the composition and the disposition of light which in Vermeer’s case comes through a window”.[1].

Even though it has transitional quality this early painting presents most of the characteristic elements of Vermeer’s serene reticent art”. [2].

Carel Fabritius asserts Fuchs was an important development in Vermeer’s art.

” Vermeer no doubt received decisive impulses from Carel Fabritius a mysterious artist who settled in Delft in 1650″. [3].

” In Vermeer’s development towards tranquillity one is tempted to suppose a relation between his particular treatment of light as a stylistic concern and his choice of subject matter”. [4]

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In some of the Genre pictures we see Gentlemen seducing parlour maids or young women with drink. In the 17th Century proletarian women were perceived as promiscuous and partial to drink. Vermeer who was from a Middle class tradition would normally exhibit these prejudices. His most famous painting was ‘a Girl with a Pearl earing’ made recently into a film with Colin Firth in the role of Vermeer.

“Vermeer’s mature paintings such as the Woman with the water jug of 1660-5 or the lace maker of which the subject characteristically is tranquillity itself”. [5].

” The paintings of Vermeer generally acquire their meaning in association with only one symbolic sign which then becomes the actual subject of the picture”. [6].

Fuchs suggests that Vermeer’s pictures have a remote feel to them.

” Compared to a contemporary painting by Steen or Van Ostade the paintings by Vermeer seem curiously remote , detached from the World”. [7].

” One senses a deliberation in the organisation of these compositions and a slowness in decision and execution. Another factor is the sparseness of setting with only a few carefully chosen and carefully placed objects”.[8].

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