Johannes Vermeer Biography
Dutch genre painter who lived and worked in Delft, created some of the most exquisite paintings in Western art.
His works are rare. Of the 35 or 36 paintings generally attributed to him, most portray figures in interiors. All his works are admired for the sensitivity with which he rendered effects of light and color and for the poetic quality of his images.
Little is known for certain about Vermeer's life and career. He was born in 1632, the son of a silk worker with a taste for buying and selling art. Vermeer himself was also active in the art trade. He lived and worked in Delft all his life. Not much is known about Vermeer's apprenticeship as an artist either. His teacher may have been Leonaert Bramer, a Delft artist who was a witness at Vermeer's marriage in 1653, or the painter Carel Fabritius of Delft. In 1653 he enrolled at the local artists guild
During the late 1650s, Vermeer, along with his colleague Pieter de Hooch, began to place a new emphasis on depicting figures within carefully composed interior spaces. . In early paintings such as The Milkmaid (c.1658; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), Vermeer struck a delicate balance between the compositional and figural elements, and he achieved highly sensuous surface effects by applying paint thickly and modeling his forms with firm strokes. Later he turned to thinner combinations of glazes to obtain the subtler and more transparent surfaces displayed in paintings such as Woman with a Water Jug (c.1664/5; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).
A keen sensitivity to the effects of light and color and an interest in defining precise spatial relationships probably encouraged Vermeer to experiment with the camera obscura, an optical device that could project the image of sunlit objects placed before it with extraordinary realism.
After his death Vermeer was overlooked by all but the most discriminating collectors and art historians for more than 200 years. His few pictures were attributed to other artists. Only after 1866 did Vermeer's works become widely known and his works heralded as genuine Vermeers.
Best known painting: Girl with a pearl earring
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