Dating all the way back to the Greeks of hundreds of years BC, we as a culture have information about all kinds of important figures throughout time. From Socrates to Plato, from Alexander to Caesar, even though some people lived thousands of years ago, their biographies are ours to command. Johannes Vermeer artwork is so famous but we still wonder
- why is the reclusive Dutch painter so far out of our grasp?
- What kind of person was he, and what kind of life did he live?
- For a master painter such as himself, he should have been more well-known, but he was not.
- Why has he eluded all kinds of biography?
1. Johannes Vermeer artwork – The Mysterious Master
Johannes Vermeer artwork represents mostly domestic interior scenes, as well as portraiture focused on few subjects. His interests lay in compositional and technical aspects of art, including, most famously, his preoccupation with light and lighting. Girl with a Pearl Earring, one of his most famous canvas, epitomizes his interests and shows off his technical skill beautifully. Here are a list of four interesting facts about Johannes Vermeer artwork.
2. He lived in his mother-in law’s house for the majority of his life
Not only does Vermeer have very little documentation about his person, he was also thought to be a complete recluse that painted pictures almost exclusively. Between his own paintings and his Painting trade, he managed to scrape together a living, but he seems to have been otherwise completely concerned with his artistic work. His mother-in-law was a wealthy woman and was able to support Vermeer and her daughter, but financial stresses hounded him his entire life.
3. He was obsessed with developing painting techniques
As is showcased with his masterpiece, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vermeer spent a great deal of time trying to make light itself a showcase of his works. This painting, now resting in The Hague since 1902, is a portrait of a girl whose identity has been lost to time (maybe his daughter). Vermeer’s famous technique for mimicking light itself can be seen in this portrait, with the girl’s earring, but like the artist himself, the painting offers no clue to the identity of his subject, nor any further insights into the painter himself.
Vermeer would work heavily with optics in order to further study light, in order to capture elements like the girl’s pearl earring, giving it its tantalizing lustre. Through the use of curved mirrors, camera obscura and camera lucida, Vermeer would hone his famous techniques and grace his works with beautiful lighting.
4. Rediscovering a buried giant
While we do not know a lot about Vermeer’s life, we knew what happened to his family and his reputation after he died – due to the ongoing economic troubles of the Netherlands at the time, and due to his own bad luck in his professions (and also due to the relatively small distribution of his works), Johannes Vermeer artwork was never fully recognized at that time.
In 1860, a German museum director saw The Art of Painting and recognized it as an authentic Vermeer. The painting, being misattributed to Pieter de Hooch, almost instantly gave Vermeer fame, since it ended up being researched by an artist and included in a catalogue. This catalogue drew significant attention to the centuries-gone painter, and finally earned him the respect he deserved.