June 5, 2009
Vermeer is known to have been extremely conscious about the real nature of colour, and about the fact that objects change in different circumstances and under different lights. In the film “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, this sharp consciousness is represented through a conversation between the painter and Griet, where he asks the young maid about the colour of the clouds. Her reaction is similar as ours would have been: “White”. However, she soon realises that the answer is not as straightforward as she had thought, and discovers that the clouds actually reflects the colours of the world that expands beneath them.
“The Little Street” is another example of this for, though red is apparently the predominant colour, we realise that most details contain blue: the cracks on the wall, the pavement, the woodwork of the windows, the tree at the left, etc. Appart from Vermeer’s mastery, this is also a sign of his economic status. Art historias from UCL, quoted in Science Blog (accessed on June 5th), pointed out that lapis lazuli was a very expensive material in the 17th century, and that unlike most painters, Vermeer used it in the representation of materials like wood and chairs. This contrasts with the generalised belief that Vermeer belonged to the lower-middle class.
May 26, 2009
If the painting itself is already imbued with a somewhat magic character, the mystery surrounding the history of the real “Little Street” makes it even more special.
Though the scarcity of evidence have led to doubts about whether this street ever existed at all, there is a theory that has been consistently regarded. This claim points Voldersgracht as being the place in which this scene might have taken place, for the gutter that one of the women is standing by suggests that the canal was very close by.
As stated in Essential Vermeer ( http://www.essentialvermeer.com/maps/delft/vermeer’s_neighborhood.html , accessed on June 8 ), the house on the left was the Old Men’s House, and Vermeer decided to paint the street after knowing that it would be demolished to house the headquartes of the Guild of Painters (St. Luke’s Guild)
April 12, 2009
If we should describe Vermeer’s paintings with only one word, that would be simplicity. The subjects are mostly ordinary women enganged in simple tasks, creating moments – small fractions of seconds – that are turned into something special. But why is it that this simplicity is imbued with some greatness that makes it almost magic?
In Essential Vermeer (http://www.essentialvermeer.com/ , accessed on June 8 ) we find two ideas that help us understand the factors that have made the figure of Vermeer stand out among other Dutch painters. To begin with, his paintings can be regarded as windows that let us peep into the reality of 17th-century Holland. The View of Delft and The Little Street show us with with extraordinary realism the daily lives of the citizens of Delft; and women that are portrayed in most of his paintings give us an idea of how their lives were somewhat limited to the domestic sphere, while men travelled around the world (maps became a ver recurrent element in Vermeer’s indoors-paintings).
But more importantly, it is important to take into account the extraordinary mastery that he showed in his paintings: the treatment of light, the portrayal of dead nature, and the ability to grasp the very moment that would make a painting eternal. “We might say Vermeer’s greatness lies more in the extraordinary depth of his vision rather than in his artistic inventiveness.” (Essential Vermeer)
And on top of all this, we should add the aura of mystery that surrounds all his paintings. Who was the girl with the pearl earring? Why most of his paintings take place in the same studio? Who was Vermeer himself?