April 22, 2011
As I mentioned in my last post, my new article will deal with the background against which A Girl Interrupted at her Music was created. First of all, I would like to consider the issue of courtship. Courtship was a very popular motif and Vermeer made use of it in several occasions. However, the facial expressions of the protagonists do not give us a clue of what they are thinking or feeling. Therefore, we have to draw our own conclusions. Is this a scene depicting a scene of amorous courtship? Is this merely a music lesson?
The well-to-do Dutch had very well-furnished houses. Many included elements such as carved furniture, glassware, exotic carpets or porcelain. All of these elements can be observed in our painting, and that conveys the idea that the lady and the cavalier belong to the haute bourgeoisie of the times. Englishmen used to say that the furniture was so clean and in good order that Dutch houses appeared to be designed for an exhibition rather than for a living space. The concept of the Dutch room will be referenced back when analyzing the painting in upcoming articles.
In the 17th century, the association between music and love was a metaphor for an amorous relationship. In fact, music-making was one of the activities which permitted young people to freely associate with each other without the presence of parents or older guardians. On the table, there lies a cittern, one of the most popular instruments of the 17th century and also one of the most frequenly depicted by Vermeer. A cittern sounds a bit like the virginal and it was used for accompanying the singing voice or for dancing music. The people Vermeer chose to represent would have ideally belonged to the haute bourgeoisie, who normally collected songbooks, one of which can be observed on the table. Songbooks played an important role in modern courtship. For instance, young musicians had a vast choice of foreign and local songbooks, which were called liedboeken or collections of love songs. These books frequently reflected the local culture containing references to favourite meeting places for lovers, taverns and so on and so forth.
Until the 1630s, outdoor garden parties where young men and women caroused playfully had been a very popular motif. This can be observed in The Garden Party by Jan Steen, a contemporary of Vermeer. However, the key innovator, Willem Buytewech lost interest in this successful garden motif and decided to bring people indoors. He depicted the haute bourgeoisie as surrounded by luxury furnishings and decorative items such as wall maps. This is the trend that Vermeer will follow in order to create his famous interiors.
The last topic I would like to point out, is the fact that Vermeer inspires himself. A Girl Interrupted at her Music shares much with The Glass of Wine: both portray a gentleman attending a young lady in a moment of courtship, and the position of the couple is more or less the same.
Apart from getting inspiration from his own work, Vermeer also inspired his famous artpieces on painters such as Van Mieris or Metsu, also his contemporaries, and who also depicted scenes of courtship.
Now that we know a little more about the background that surrounded Vermeer and his creations, I will move on to consider, in my next article, the most outstanding elements or details found in A Girl Interrupted at her Music.
- Understanding A Girl Interrupted at her Music. (2010,2011). In Essential Vermeer. Retrieved February 19, 2011, from: http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/girl_interrupted_in_her_music.html.
April 5, 2009
Some landscapes in art
I have found a blog in the Internet that is about landscapes in art. It is a colection of articles about different paintings in which landscapes are depicted. I have linked this post with the article about View of Delft. In it, we find a reflection about some points of the painting by Vermeer. The writer talks about painting techniques shown in the picture, and analyzes the painting’s history and impact.
There are also some quotations of books and other writers.
- Some landscapes: View of Delft [online] [17-05-09] WWW Page: http://some-landscapes.blogspot.com/2009/02/view-of-delft.html
April 4, 2009
View of Delft, by Johannes Vermeer, a guided art history tour through this painting
This is a webpage full of detailed information about the paint of Vermeer. I use it in my presentation of the picture. In the web, you can fine information about the way the painting is done and information about how Delft is depicted in the picture. There is also information about what has changed in the city. And there are link through the text that link you to more details, that will appear at the top of the text.
There are also references to other paint by Vermeer and to other analysis and interesting webpages of View of Delft. You can also email the author of the analysis.
- The ‘View of Delft’ by Johannes Vermeer, a guided art history tour through this painting [online] [17-05-09] WWW Page: http://www.xs4all.nl/~kalden/verm/view/Vermeer_main.html