Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was a Dutch painter who is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 17th century. He was born and raised in Delft, Netherlands, to a family of modest means. His father, Reynier Janszoon, was a silk worker and innkeeper, while his mother, Digna Baltens, came from a family of brewers. Vermeer was the second of their 11 children.
Vermeer received a basic education and was trained as an artist by his mentor, Leonaert Bramer, a well-known painter in Delft. He also studied under Carel Fabritius, a renowned Dutch painter who was a member of the Delft School, which was known for its realism and attention to detail.
In 1653, Vermeer married Catharina Bolnes, the daughter of a prominent Delft family. Together they had 15 children, although only 11 survived to adulthood. Vermeer often used his wife and children as models in his paintings.
Vermeer worked mainly in Delft, where he had his studio and workshop. He was influenced by the work of other Dutch painters of his time, including Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Pieter de Hooch. He developed his own unique style, which was characterized by his use of light, color, and composition.
Vermeer's technique involved using multiple layers of thin paint to create luminous effects and subtle variations in color. He also used a camera obscura, a device that projected images onto a surface, to help him achieve precise detail and perspective in his paintings.
Vermeer's footprint on the art world is significant, as his work had a profound influence on the development of the Dutch Golden Age of painting. His use of light and color was particularly innovative, and many later artists, such as the Impressionists, were inspired by his work.
Vermeer produced only about 35 paintings in his lifetime, but they are considered to be some of the finest examples of Dutch Golden Age painting. Here are his five most important paintings:
"Girl with a Pearl Earring" (1665): This portrait of a young woman wearing a pearl earring has become one of the most iconic paintings in the world.
"The Milkmaid" (1658-1660): This painting depicts a young woman pouring milk and is notable for its use of light and color.
"View of Delft" (1660-1661): This painting is a cityscape of Delft, Vermeer's hometown, and is considered to be one of the greatest cityscapes in art history.
"The Astronomer" (1668): This painting shows an astronomer studying the stars and is notable for its use of light and perspective.
"The Music Lesson" (1662-1665): This painting shows a young woman receiving a music lesson and is notable for its attention to detail and composition.