June 7, 2009
The Art of Painting
c. 1666-73; Oil on canvas, 130 x 110 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
June 7, 2009
As Vermeer left behind no drawings or preliminary studies, our information about his artistic process can only be gleaned from the paintings themselves. In this regard, The Art of Painting is particularly valuable for it depicts an artist at work. It demonstrates that an artist sat rather than stood at his easel, and also shows that he used his mahlstick to steady his hand while painting. Having already covered his canvas with a light gray ground and indicated his composition with white lines, the artist applies flat, unmodulated strokes of color as the underlying tones. At a later stage a variety of glazes and small highlights would model the form.
Technical examinations of Vermeer’s paintings have shown that he often followed this procedure. Sometimes it appears that he changed his mind during the painting process and made adjustments even after he had blocked in compositional elements. Nevertheless, in this painting not a single compositional change has been discovered, either through microscopic analysis, infrared photography, or x-radiography. Such compositional assurance seems to indicate that Vermeer had worked out his composition beforehand.
Whether or not he was inspired by the optical and spatial effects of the camera obscura, he organized and structured his painting with careful attention to the laws of linear perspective. As seems to have been his standard process, he marked his vanishing point, just below the black finial of the pole weighting the map, with a pin. Strings would then have been attached to the pin to mark the orthogonals of the tiles and table edge. Despite these careful preparations, Vermeer adapted his perspective to enhance the dramatic impact of the scene. To emphasize the artist’s central importance within the allegory, Vermeer painted him at a disproportionately large scale: standing, the artist would tower over his model. Even though the artist’s face is not visible, the viewer senses both the forcefulness of his personality and the intensity of his gaze.
The artist at his easel is executed with broad strokes that match the boldness of the image. The patterns of the black jacket, red hose, white boot hose, and black slippers are almost abstract in their crisp renderings of light and shadow. At the rear of the room, however, Vermeer has described forms with more attention to light and textural effects. The nuances of light falling across Clio’s hands, face, and robe convey the softness of her skin, the smoothness of the leather-bound folio she holds, and the sheen of the blue fabric. Vermeer similarly recorded the worn surface of the wall map as light models its form and reflects its aged appearance. Finally, in one of the most striking passages found in any of his works, he captured the brilliance of sunlight reflecting off the polished surface of the brass chandelier. With sure strokes that range from thick impastos of lead-tin yellow in the highlights to darker and thinner strokes of ocher in the shadows, Vermeer created the illusion of an object that seems almost tangible.
Excerpt taken from: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/verm_5.shtm
June 7, 2009
Johaness Vermeer was a Dutch painter who especialized in painting domestic interior scenes of ordinary life. He was moderately successful, but maybe because he painted relatively few paintings (35 are attributed to him) he was not wealthy and left his family in debt when he died.
He worked slowly and with great care, he liked the use of bright colours and sometimes, even, expensive pigments. He is renowned for his mastery in the use of light in his paintings. He was, unfortunately, forgotten for a time, until Gustav Friedrich Waagen rediscovered him. He and Thoré Bürger published an essay about him, and since that time Vermeer’s reputation grew up, being nowadays acknowledged as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age.
Cite the site: Johannes Vermeer. (2009, June 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:25, June 7, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Johannes_Vermeer&oldid=294906079
May 4, 2009
Symbolism in “The Art of Painting” according to some experts:
- The subject in the Muse of History, Clio: Evidenced by the facts that she is wearing a laurel wreath, holding a trumpet (depicting fame) and carrying a book (this book may be a book by Thucydides)
- The double headed eagle: It is the symbol of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty and former rulers of Holland, and it adorns the central golden chandelier. It may represent the Catholic faith, as Vermeer was a Catholic in a Protestant Holland. Moreover, the absense of candels on the chandelier may also represent the supression of the Catholic faith.
- The map at the back : It has a rip and it divides the Netherlands between the north and the south. This rip symbolizes the division between the Dutch Republic to the north and the Habsburg controlled provinces to the south. As said in the previous post, the map was made by Claes Jansz Visscher and it shows the earlier political division between the Union of Utretch to the north, and the colonies to the south.
- The mask: There is a mask on the table next to the artist, and it is thought to be a death mask, representing the ineffectiveness of the Habsburg monarch.
Cite the site: The Art of Painting. (2009, May 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 09:09, May 29, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Art_of_Painting&oldid=292918602
May 4, 2009
The Art of Painting, also known as The Allegory of Painting, or Painter in his Studio, is a famous 17th century oil on canvas painting by Vermeer. Many experts in art believe that this work of art is an allegory of painting, and hence the alternate title of the painting. The Art of Painting, moreover, is the largest and more complex of all of Vermeer’s works. In it we find an intimate scene of a painter painting a female subject in his studio, by a window, with the background of a large map. This is one of Vermeer’s favourite paintings, but it is also a fine example of the optical style of painting. In the painting we find bright colours, but also the impact of light streaming through the windows on various elements of the painting. The painting has only two characters: the painter and his subject, a woman. The painter, for example, is thought to be a self-portrait of Vermeer, but the face is not visible. The map of the back is a map of the Netherlands, and is a map published by Claes Jansz Visscher in 1636.
Cite the site: The Art of Painting. (2009, May 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:24, May 28, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Art_of_Painting&oldid=292918602
April 16, 2009
The Art of Painting has all the characteristics of Vermeer’s artistic genius, but, moreover, it stands apart from his other works. In this painting we see a seventeenth-century Dutch interior that is illuminated by diffused light and exquisitely painted details.
It is believed that this painting was really important to Vermeer, as it remained in his possession until his death. Even when the family was left in financial straits, it was not sold. After the death of the painter, his widow passed the ownership of the work to her mother, with this title work “a piece of painting by her late husband in which was depicted The Art of Painting“. This title presents an artist depicting a woman who is dressed as Cleo, the muse of history.
The painting shows us an everyday scene that takes place in a room filled with objetcs (a map, tapestry, and a chandelier). The artist is dressed in an elegant costume and is looking carefully to his model. In her head a crown of laurel can be seen, an object that represents honour, glory, and eternal life. In her hands she is holding a trumpet and a thick book, objects which represent fame and history.
Information taken from: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/verm_2.shtm