Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)

Johannes Vermeer was born on October 31, 1632 and is considered a master of Dutch art of the 17th century. He spent most of his life in the town of Delft, the Netherlands. Very little is known about the life of Vermeer, but it is likely that his art-dealer father introduced him to painting. Although only a moderately successful painter in his lifetime, Johannes Vermeer paintings are now acknowledged as masterpieces, especially for the treatment and use of light in his oeuvre.

The incomparable Dutch artist is known for his solitary, serene figures caught in the act of private contemplation. A painter from the Dutch Baroque era, Vermeer dealt mainly with subjects set in interiors. He had an infallible grasp of pictorial design and Vermeer paintings are firmly objective while recording the soft play of daylight on shapes and surfaces.

Throughout his lifetime, Johannes Vermeer lived simply with his wife and children in a small town, exchanging his paintings as payment with the local grocers and bakers. His paintings depict a cross section of 17th century Dutch society, from The Milkmaid to another world of Dutch aristocratic and upper middle-class society, where the theatre in which these characters appear is a lavish one, with precious carpets and fine musical instruments to be played. The ladies do lacework and entertain in their salons. Famous Vermeer paintings recreate the figures of Dutch society as wholly devoted to the finer things in life.

Vermeer s most famous painting is The Girl with a Pearl Earring, which exemplifies Vermeer s mastery of the Dutch genre painting with masterful composition and shades of soft, silvery light. This Vermeer painting is known as the Mona Lisa of the North.

Vermeer died in debt on December 16, 1675 at 43 years old and is entombed in Delft, the Netherlands.


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