Johannes Vermeer

Missing image
Milkmaid (1658-1660)

Johannes Vermeer (1632 - December 15, 1675) was a Dutch painter, who is also sometimes referred to as Vermeer of Delft or Johannes van der Meer. Alongside Rembrandt, Vermeer is the best known painter of the Dutch Golden Age, and his paintings are admired for their transparent colours, careful composition and brilliant use of light.



Vermeer produced transparent colours by adding the paint onto the canvas in loosely granular layers, a technique called pointill (not to be confused with pointillism). Historians speculate that Vermeer possibly used a camera obscura to achieve a perfect perspective in his compositions, but the issue is disputed (David Hockney has been a major exponent of this theory).


Vermeer painted mostly in-house scenes, and even his two known landscapes are framed with a window. His works are largely genre pieces and portraits, with the exception of two city views.

His paintings cover all layers of society, at one time portraying a simple milkmaid at work, at other times works show the luxury and splendour of rich notables and merchantmen in their roomy houses. Religious and scientific connotations can be found in his works.

Influence of other painters

  • Carel Fabritius (16221654) who spent his final years in Delft. Vermeer's ideas about perspective, and his tendency to paint everyday themes were possibly influenced by Fabritius.
  • Italian painter Caravaggio (15731610), indirectly through Dutch followers.
  • Leonart Bramer, another painter from Delft, and witness to his marriage.
  • Vermeer owned a Dirk van Baburen painting, which appears in two of Vermeer's paintings.


Missing image
View of Delft (1660-1661)

Today, 34 images are clearly attributed to Vermeer, although in 1866, Thor Burger attributed a list of 66 pictures to him. The known paintings are:


Han van Meegeren (18981947) was a Dutch painter who worked in the classic tradition. Originally to prove that critics were wrong about his qualities as a painter, he decided to paint a fake Vermeer. Later, he forged more Vermeers and works of other painters, just to get the money. Van Meegeren fooled the art establishment, and was only taken seriously after demonstrating his skills in front of police witnesses. His aptitude at forgery shocked the art world and hence made it even more difficult to assess the authenticity of works attributed to Vermeer.

Vermeer in other works

External links


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