10 Johannes Vermeer Paintings You Should Be Aware
Johannes Vermeer, who was born in 1632, established himself as an important figure in Dutch art history during his brief lifetime. His paintings do not depict grandiose scenes, but rather commonplace scenes of middle class life. They may appear strange to us now, but what they’re actually doing is giving us a glimpse into the lives of common people 400 years ago. Here are ten Vermeer works that should not be missed.
Diana and her Nymphs
Diana and her Nymphs is most likely Vermeer’s first surviving painting, and it must be viewed as the starting point for tracing his artistic progression. It is atypical for a Vermeer in that it depicts a scene from Roman mythology rather than a middle-class Dutch scene; however, instead of depicting Diana with her usual cheerful disposition and elaborate regalia, she appears as a young woman surrounded by a group of companions. Despite being in a group, each girl appears to be quite alone, which adds another dimension of intrigue to this painting.
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring is currently Vermeer’s most well-known painting, in part due to the historical novel and subsequent film of the same name, both of which were released in 1999 and 2003, respectively. In addition to having a subject who resembles Scarlet Johansson, the painting is striking for a number of other reasons. Who is the girl looking over her shoulder with such pleading at the audience? Why is she dressed so exotically for the time period? How did she obtain something so precious as the pearl earring, which some have speculated is likely made of polished tin? If you wish to ponder these questions in person, you can visit the Mauritshuis in The Hague to view the painting.
The Allegory of Painting
The Allegory of Painting, also known as The Art of Painting, is remarkable in numerous ways. It is the second largest work by Vermeer and the most complex in terms of iconography and composition. His use of light is one of the most impressive aspects; it is all clearly natural, illuminating the room just as an open window would. The painting also contains numerous historical symbols, such as an eagle with two heads perched atop the chandelier. Some claim that the Nazis were very interested in acquiring it due to its historical symbolism.
The Little Street
The Little Street is notable for both its subject matter and the fact that it is the only painting by Vermeer that was painted outdoors. The buildings he chose to depict in this small painting are unremarkable, but the painting’s geometric composition and starkly contrasting hues bring it to life. Although extensive research has been conducted on the exact location of the buildings, it is likely that he chose this street and these buildings because his aunt, mother, and sister all resided there.
The Music Lesson
The Music Lesson, located in the Royal Collection at St. James’s Palace in London, depicts a scene very typical of Vermeer, although it was not correctly attributed to him until 1866, more than two centuries after he painted it. It depicts a young woman receiving music instruction from an older instructor who stands next to her and observes her closely. This painting served as a case study for Vermeer’s techniques in the 2013 documentary Tim’s Vermeer, in which the filmmaker attempted to determine whether or not Vermeer used optical devices in his painting.
View of Delft
In View of Delft, Vermeer provides a unique panorama of his hometown. At the time, cityscapes were not the most popular type of painting, which contributes to its uniqueness. The painting is only one square meter in size, but it provides insights into the city at the time that are likely impossible to obtain elsewhere. The respect he has for his hometown is evident in the way he depicts it in a manner that is both aesthetically pleasing and completely natural. This is another one that can be found in the Mauritshuis, and coin collectors can find a version of it on gold and silver commemorative coins issued in 2011 by the Royal Dutch Mint.
Woman with a Water Jug
In 1887, Woman with a Water Jug was the first Vermeer painting to cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive in the United States. Currently, it remains on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This painting is an exquisite illustration of how simplicity can blossom into beauty, as its subject is, as the title suggests, a normal girl standing by a window with a water jug. A tablecloth, a platter for the water jug, and blue fabric draped over a chair are examples of her everyday surroundings, and all of them combine to create something more.
In The Astronomer, Vermeer depicts scientists at work, as was popular in 17th-century Dutch painting. A number of objects in the room point to Vermeer’s emphasis on religion in addition to the astronomer gazing at a globe of the heavens. The book on the scientist’s desk urges him to seek “inspiration from God,” and the painting on the wall behind him depicts Moses. In 1940, the Nazis seized the painting from the Jewish Rothschild family and stamped a swastika onto its back. The painting now resides in the Louvre in Paris.
The Wine Glass
Bright coloring is the first thing you will notice about The Wine Glass. The stained-glass panels on the windows, a blue curtain illuminated by the sun, the woman’s red dress, and the gold frame on the back wall appear to leap out of the painting, as if they are almost too vivid to be real. Vermeer likely painted this when he was only about 27 years old, which demonstrates extraordinary maturity for such a young painter. The scene itself raises a number of questions, such as what is the relationship between the two individuals? Why do they each appear so subtly tense and uneasy?
The Allegory of Faith
The Allegory of Faith, one of Vermeer’s later works, shares a number of similarities with the aforementioned Allegory of Painting, including the fact that they are the only two of his works with such overtly profound and symbolic meanings. The Allegory of Faith, on the other hand, leaps into Baroque painting with the dramatic pose of the woman depicted there, and it is packed with religious symbols. This ranges from the extremely obvious, such as the large painting of Christ on the cross behind her, to the more subtle, such as the crown of thorns placed on a book and the golden apple and crushed snake on the floor.
Topic: 10 Johannes Vermeer Paintings You Should Be Aware
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By: Travel Pixy