Essay on Jan Vermeer van Delft

  • Category: Art,
  • Words: 607 Pages: 3
  • Published: 07 April 2021
  • Copied: 189

“Vermeer is not a sun painter, but rather a moon-painter. . . it is the pure, final stage of art, the moment when it becomes more real than reality.” -Arshile Gorky. Johannes Vermeer, a painter during the ‘Baroque Period of the Arts,’ was born in Delft Netherland. Delft was a prosperous city in that time known for its arts, not just in painting form, but that of delftware and tapestry weaving factories and their fine breweries. Johannes was born on October 31, 1632, to Reynier Janszoon Vermeer, a prosperous Caffa producer, and art dealer. In 1653, Johannes converted to Catholicism, to marry Catherina Bolnes with whom he had several healthy kids.  Although Johannes was raised among art and artists, he did not begin his career until adulthood. 
While the career of artists did often go as planned, Jan Vermeer van Delft found a way to paint the subjects he enjoyed. While he began like most artists of that period, painting Biblical and mythical scenes for commissions he soon started painting scenes of everyday life. Often referred to as a master in light, shadows, and perspective, Vermeer painted his masterpieces in an original way, very particular to him. A room that most of his paintings are based in, provides the perfect amount of light to play within a painting. His simple dark splotches and highlights put into perspective the entire scene, making the viewer believe that he is standing in the same room. In each painting, no matter how common they appear, there is an evoked moral or philosophical idea discreetly conveyed. While Vermeer was not well known or prominent in his city, in 1652 he was invited to join the Delft Artists Guild and was later voted the president four different times. 
Although Vermeer did not have a fast output of his works, two paintings completed relatively close together are Milkmaid and Woman with a Water Jug. Both paintings feature a young lady standing over a table in a plain room with a window letting in plenty of sunlight. Both paintings use Vermeer’s favorite paint, from the lapis lazuli rock. While the Milkmaid is dressed in serving ware with a blue wrap around her skirt, the woman with a water jug’s lavish dress is completely blue. Both women are holding jars of liquid next to tables, and both appear to be parts of prominent households. This is implied in the milkmaid by the abundance of bread on the table, symbolizing that there was not want for food. In the second painting, this is implied by the lavish houseware.  However, in these similarities, there are slight differences. While both have a window on the left-hand side, the Woman with a Water Jug is much more ornate than the milkmaid. Somehow, Johannes Vermeer found a way to create entirely different masterpieces using the same base scene.
Although Vermeer has left this world, what remains is his legacy. While his life was not full of fame, at the beginning of the twentieth century his fame began to grow. Because of his meticulous attention to paint colors and his freehanded scenes, Vermeer is one of several artists that can easily be picked out in a line up (very original). From 1995-1996 an exhibition of his work was displayed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and at Mauritshuis, in The Hague. He was truly a master at painting in 3D, using shadows and light to play with his subjects. “He had the ability to transform an image of the physical world into a harmonious, timeless, visual expression. Although only 36 of his original works exist, among his major works are The Procuress, Diana and Her Companions, The Milkmaid, and Girl with a pearl earring. Vermeer was a talented artist, who somehow found a way to break the barriers of paint and paint past the reality of this world.  
 

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