Monday, December 1, 2014

Johannes Vermeer




Detail of the painting The Procuress (c. 1656), considered to be a self portrait by Vermeer.


PAINTINGS


The Allegory of Faith


The Allegory of Faith, also known as Allegory of the Catholic Faith, is a painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670-1672. The painting is currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and has been since 1931.
This and Vermeer's only other, earlier, allegory, Art of Painting are his only works that fall under history painting in the contemporary hierarchy of genres, though they still have his typical composition of one or two figures in a domestic interior. Both share several features: the perspective is almost the same, and at the left of each painting is a multicolor tapestry pulled to the left to disclose the scene. The Art of Painting also used symbolism from Cesare Ripa (of Clio, muse of history). Vermeer's Love Letter uses the same or a similar gilt panel.[2] The Allegory and The Art of Painting two paintings differ markedly in style and purpose from Vermeer's other works. Both works show complex meaning, but this one "reveals that the artist's usual focus on naturalistic effects was a stylistic option, to be set aside when the subject called for another approach".[1] The Art of Painting still reads as a naturalistic depiction of an artist and his model, and the pose, if not the costume, of the model is a simple one, whereas the pose of the figure in the The Allegory of Faith is Baroquely dramatic.

Description

The painting depicts a woman in a fine white and blue satin dress with gold trimmings. She sits on a platform a step higher than the black and white marble floor, her right foot on a terrestrial globe and her right hand on her heart as she looks up, adoringly, at a glass sphere hung from the ceiling by a blue ribbon. Her left arm rests on the edge of a table which holds a golden chalice, a large book, and a dark-wood crucifix. Behind the crucifix is a gilt-leather panel screen.Beneath the book is a long piece of cloth, possibly a priest's stole. Resting on top of the book is a crown of thorns. All of these items are on the platform, which is covered by a green and yellow rug, the edge of which is on the floor. At the bottom of the picture, nearer the viewer, is an apple, and nearer still a snake which has been squashed by a cornerstone. On the dim, far wall behind the woman, a large painting of Christ's crucifixion is hung on the wall behind the woman. To the viewer's left is a multicolored tapestry, pulled back at the bottom and seemingly the closest thing in the painting to the viewer. A chair with a blue cloth on it is immediately beneath and behind the tapestry and to the left of the snake and cornerstone.



The Allegory of Faith


Diana and Her Companions

Diana and Her Companions is a painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer completed in the early to mid-1650s, now at the Mauritshuismuseum in The Hague. Although the exact year is unknown, the work may be the earliest painting of the artist still extant, with some art historians placing it before Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, some after.
The painting's solemn mood is unusual for a scene depicting the goddess Diana, and the nymph washing the central figure's feet has captured the attention of critics and historians, both for her activity and contemporary clothing. Rather than directly illustrating one of the dramatic moments in well-known episodes from myths about Diana, the scene shows a woman and her attendants quietly at her toilette. The theme of a woman in a private, reflective moment would grow stronger in Vermeer's paintings as his career progressed.
Nothing of the work's history before the mid-19th century is known, and the painting was not widely accepted as one of Vermeer's until the early 20th century, when its similarities with Mary and Martha were noticed. About one ninth of the painting's width has been removed from the right side, and it was not discovered until 1999 or 2000 was that the sky in the upper right-hand corner had been added in the 19th century.

Description

The scene

The painting depicts the Greek and Roman goddess Diana ("Artemis" in Ancient Greece) with four of her companions. She wears a loose fitting, yellow dress with an animal-skin sash and, on her head, a diadem with a symbol of the crescent moon. As she sits on a rock, a nymph washes her left foot. Another, behind Diana, sits with her partially bare back to the viewer (the most skin Vermeer shows on a figure in any of his extant paintings), a third nymph, sitting at Diana's left, holds her own left foot with her right hand. A fourth stands in the rear, somewhat apart from the rest of the group and facing them and the viewer at an angle, her eyes cast down, her fists in front of her. A dog sits in the lower left-hand corner near Diana, its back to the viewer as it faces the goddess, her attendants and, immediately in front of it, a thistle.

Except for the woman whose face is completely turned away from the viewer, all of the other faces in the painting are to one degree or another in shadow, including that of the dog. None of the women look at each other, each seemingly absorbed in their own thoughts, a fact which contributes to the solemn mood of the piece.
In 1999-2000, when the painting underwent restoration work and was cleaned, it was discovered that an area of blue sky in the upper right corner had been added in the 19th century. Numerous reproductions up to that time had included the blue sky. Restorers covered over the patch with foliage to approximate the original image. The canvas had also been trimmed, particularly on the right, where about 15 cm was removed.[3] Descriptions of the scene being in a "woodland glade" or "near the edge of a wood" may rely heavily on the patch of sky erroneously thought to be original to the painting, although light without shadows does fall on the scene from above and to the left, with short shadows forming to the viewer's right. The observation that the scene appeared to be taking place in "the gathering dusk" may have been influenced by the lighter, but darkening patch of sky contrasted sharply with the dark mass of foliage in the background of the painting, together with the shadows on all the visible faces.
The painting is signed on the lower left, on the rock between the thistle and the dog.

Technical description

The canvas is a plain weave linen with a thread count of 14.3 by 10 per square centimeter. Vermeer first outlined the composition with dark brown brushwork (some of which shows through as pentimenti in the skirt of the woman washing Diana's foot. Hairs on the dog's ear were scratched in with the handle of the artist's brush. Paint has been lost in vertical lines left of the painting's center.


Diana and Her Companions


Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window


Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window is an oil painting by Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer. Completed in approximately 1657–1659, the well-preserved painting is on display at the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden. For many years, the attribution of the painting—which features a young Dutch woman reading a letter before an open window—was lost, with first Rembrandt and then Pieter de Hooch being credited for the work before it was properly identified in 1880. After World War II, the painting was briefly in possession of the Soviet Union.

History

Vermeer completed the painting in approximately 1657–1659. In 1742, Augustus III of PolandElector of Saxony, purchased the painting under the mistaken belief that it had been painted by Rembrandt.[8] In 1826, it was mis-attributed again, to Pieter de Hooch. It was so labeled when French art critic Théophile Thoré-Bürger came upon it, recognizing it as one of the rare works of the Dutch painter and restoring its proper attribution in 1860.
Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window was among the paintings rescued from destruction during the bombing of Dresden in World War II. The painting was stored, with other works of art, in a tunnel in Saxony; when the Red Army encountered them, they took them. The Soviets portrayed this as an act of rescue; some others as an act of plunder. Either way, after the death of Joseph Stalin, the Soviets decided in 1955 to return the art to Germany, "for the purpose of strengthening and furthering the progress of friendship between the Soviet and German peoples."Aggrieved at the thought of losing hundreds of paintings, art historians and museum curators in the Soviet Union suggested that "in acknowledgment for saving and returning the world-famous treasures of the Dresden Gallery" the Germans should perhaps donate to them Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window and Sleeping Venus by Giorgione. The Germans did not take to the idea, and the painting was returned. Well-preserved, it is on display at the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden.



Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window


The Guitar Player (Vermeer)

The Guitar Player is a 1672 painting by Jan Vermeer, on display in Kenwood HouseLondon as part of the Iveagh Bequest. In 2012 Kenwood closed for renovations until autumn 2013, and the painting was on display in the National Gallery for this period, next to their own two Vermeers. It was returned to Kenwood House in late December. 
On February 23, 1974, the painting was stolen from Kenwood House, and held for a ransom of over $1,000,000US in food to be distributed on the Caribbean island of Grenada, or else the painting would be destroyed by those who had stolen it. It was recovered by Scotland Yard in the cemetery of St Bartholomew-the-Great, in London's financial district, on May 7, 1974. Although the painting showed signs of dampness, it was otherwise undamaged.


The Guitar Player by Vermeer


Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid

Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid is a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, completed between 1670–1671 and held in the National Gallery of Ireland. The work shows a middle-class woman attended by a maid who is presumably acting as messenger and go-between for the lady and her lover. The work is seen as a bridge between the quiet restraint and self-containment of Vermeer's work of the 1660s and his relatively cooler work of the 1670s. It may have been partly inspired by Ter Borch's painting Woman Sealing a Letter. The painting's canvas was almost certainly cut from the same bolt used for Woman with a Lute.
Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid is the first of the artist's experiments with centrifugal composition; where the focus is not only form the center of the canvas. In addition, it is his third work in which the drama and dynamic is not centered on a single figure. The maid is shown standing in the mid-ground, behind her lady, with her hands crossed and waiting for the letter to be completed. The positions of their bodies indicates that the two women are disconnected. The folded arms of the maid seem outwardly as an attempt to display a sense of self-containment, however she is detached from her lady both emotionally and psychologically. The maid's gaze towards the half-visible window indicates an inner restlessness and boredom, as she waits impatiently for the messenger to carry her lady's letter away.Some art historians dispute the absoluteness of this view; according to Pascal Bonafoux, while complicity is not "indicated by a look or a smile" from either woman, the mere fact of her presence during such an intimate act as the composition of a love letter indicates at least a degree of intimacy between the two.
The painting visits many of Vermeer's usual painterly motifs; in particular his obsession with the inside/outside axis of interior spaces, and through his description of the tiled floor as well as the verticals of the dresses, window frame and back wall painting, his interest in geometryand abstract form. Vermeer had experimented with this painterly device earlier in his career, notably in his View of DelftThe Lacemaker and The Art of Painting.


Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid


A Lady Writing a Letter

A Lady Writing a Letter (also known as A Lady WritingDutchSchrijvend meisje) is an oil painting attributed to 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It is believed to have been completed around 1665. The Lady is seen to be writing a letter and has been interrupted, so gently turns her head to see what is happening. She wears twelve pearls (10 on the necklace and two earrings).
Many of the objects seen in the painting, such as the woman's coat, the cloth on the table, and the string of pearls, also appear in other Vermeer works. This has led to speculation that he or his family members owned the objects, and even that the subjects of the paintings are his relatives. It has often been suggested that in his paintings, Vermeer sought to grant to his models that which he could not endow to his wife and family: calm and affluence.
A Lady Writing a Letter was donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1962 by Harry Waldron Havemeyer and Horace Havemeyer. In its first loan to the Norton Simon Museum, the National Gallery of Art agreed to lend the painting for exhibition at the Pasadena, California museum from November 7, 2008 through February 9, 2009.
In Blue Balliett's children's book, Chasing VermeerA Lady Writing is stolen on its way from the National Gallery of Art to Chicago, causing the main conflict of the story.


A Lady Writing a Letter


The Love Letter (Vermeer)

The Love Letter (DutchDe liefdesbrief) is a 17th-century genre painting by Jan Vermeer. The painting shows a servant maid handing a letter to a young woman with a cittern. The painting is in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

Description

The tied-up curtain in the foreground creates the impression that the viewer is looking at an intensely private, personal scene. There is also an element of trompe l'oeil as Dutch paintings were often hung with little curtains to conserve them, and the device of painted curtains is seen in other Dutch works of the period. The diagonals on the chequered floor create the impression of depth and three-dimensionality. The fact that it is a love letter that the woman has received is made clear by the fact that she is carrying a lute (more specifically, a cittern, a member of the lute/guitar family). The lute was a symbol of love - often carnal love; luit was also a slang term for vagina. This idea is further reinforced by the slippers at the very bottom of the picture. The removed slipper was another symbol of sex. The floor brush would appear to represent domesticity, and its placement at the side of the painting may suggest that domestic concerns have been forgotten or pushed aside.
The colors blue and gold are important in the composition of the painting - the gold is located on the woman's dress, the top of the fireplace, and many of the objects, which complements the blue on the floor, the maid's dress, the picture frames, etc., Classical influence is also apparent in the ionic columns of the fireplace.
The two paintings on the wall are also significant. The lower painting is of a stormy sea, a clear metaphor for tempestuous love. Above it is a landscape painting of a traveler on a sandy road. This may refer to the absence of the man who is writing to the lady.


The Love Letter

Mistress and Maid

Mistress and Maid (c.1667) is a painting produced by Johannes Vermeer, now in the Frick Collection in New York City. The work of Johannes Vermeer, also known as Jan, is well known for many characteristics that are present in this painting. The use of yellow and blue, female models, and domestic scenes are all signatures of Vermeer. This oil on canvas portrays two women, a Mistress and her Maid, as they look over the Mistress' love letter.

Description

Mistress and Maid was painted over the years 1666–1667 on a canvas. The painting shows an elegant mistress and her maid as they look over a love letter that the mistress just received. There are prominent Vermeer styles presented in this painting. There is a strong use of yellow in the woman's elegant fur-lined overcoat, and blue in the silk tablecloth and the maid's apron. The focus of the painting is the two women as they are sitting at a desk, doing an everyday activity. Vermeer was known for his domestic scenes containing women. The light in the painting comes from the left, and falls on the mistress' face, as is apparent from the shadow of the table on her legs. This painting can seems very straightforward at first glance, but it has deeper psychological implications.[according to whom?] If one looks at the image straightforwardly, one sees the mistress as she looks at the sealed love letter, hinting that she has a relationship with someone who is perhaps a great distance away. There is a hinted relationship between the maid and the mistress with their furtive glances and their body language, as they lean towards each other.[citation needed] The mistress has a pensive gaze, with her lips parter ever so slightly and her fingertips lifted to her chin in a questioning manner. The mistress' profile is slightly blurred and undefined and is meant to portray an idea that the woman is soft and sweet. This is likened[by whom?] to another one of Vermeer's paintings, Girl with a Pearl Earring. The painting is preserved well and it has stylistic features such as the large scale of the figures, the dark background, and the dramatic modeling within the scene. In Mistress and Maid, Vermeer played with his medium and created texture and light with his works. For example, the lighted parts of the yellow overcoat are formed with sweeping brushstrokes of lead-tin paint and the shadows are created with definition. Dark backgrounds were used in portraiture after Leonardo da Vinci created the trend. They were used because they gave focus to the person in the portrait and enhanced the three-dimensional effect. Vermeer uses dark backgrounds in his other portraits such as Portrait of a Young Woman and Girl with a Pearl Earring. There is a prominent usage of pearls on the mistress in this painting. Pearls were an important status symbol of the period and that was reflected in the mistress' fancy attire and her abundance of pearls. A prevalent theme in Vermeer's paintings from around the late 1660s is letter writings. In earlier works, there is one woman isolated with a letter, but in this painting the added maid is a new element. This gives the painting a sense of anxiousness between the two women over the letter and its potential contents.


Mistress and Maid by Johannes Vermeer


Officer and Laughing Girl

Officer and Laughing Girl, also known as Officer and a Laughing GirlOfficer With a Laughing Girl or De Soldaat en het Lachende Meisje, was painted by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer between 1655 and 1660. It was painted in oil on canvas, typical of most Dutch artists of the time, and is 50.5 by 46 cm. It now resides in The Frick Collection in New York.
Officer and Laughing Girl includes many of the characteristics of Vermeer's style. The main subject is a woman in a yellow dress, light is coming from the left hand side of the painting from an open window, and there is a large map on the wall. Each of these elements occur in some of his other paintings, although this painting differs slightly with the man also sitting at the table. Art historians, who have suggested conflicting interpretations of the work, believe that a painting by Gerard van Honthorst inspired the composition, and that Vermeer used a camera obscura to create the perspective in this painting.


Officer and Laughing Girl


The Procuress (Vermeer)

The Procuress is a 1656 oil-on-canvas painting by the 24-years-old Jan Vermeer. It can be seen in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. It is his first genre painting and shows a scene of contemporary life, an image of mercenary love perhaps in a brothel. It differs from his earlier biblical and mythological scenes. It is one of only three paintings Vermeer signed and dated (the other two are The Astronomer and The Geographer).
It seems Vermeer was influenced by earlier works on the same subject by Gerard ter Borch, and The Procuress (c. 1622) by Dirck van Baburen, which was owned by Vermeer's mother-in-law Maria Thins and hung in her home.

The scene

The woman in black, the leering coupler, "in a nun's costume", could be the eponymous procuress, while the man to her left, "wearing a black beret and a doublet with slashed sleeves", has been identified as a self portrait of the artist.Vermeer just juxtaposed a beer glass. There is a resemblance with the painter in Vermeer's The Art of Painting.
The man, a soldier, in the red jacket is fondling her breast and dropping a coin into the young woman's outstretched hand.According to Benjamin Binstock the painting could be understood as a psychological portrait of his adopted family. Vermeer is in the painting as a musician, in the employ of the madam. In his rather fictional book Binstock explains Vermeer used his family as models; the whore could be Vermeer's wife Catherina and the lewd soldier her brother Willem.
The three-dimensional jug on the oriental rug is a piece of Westerwald Pottery. The kelim thrown over a barrister, probably produced in Uşak, covers a third of the painting and showes medaillons and leaves.The instrument is probably a cittern. The dark coat with five buttons was added by Vermeer in a later stage.
In 1696 the painting, being sold on an auction in Amsterdam, was named "A merry company in a room". According to Binstock this "dark and gloomy" painting does not represent a didactic message.


The Procuress