The Picture “View of Delft”

   The “View of Delft” is a painting made between 1659 and 1660 by the Dutch painter Johanes Vermeer. Nowadays, it can be found in the Mauritdhuis of the Hague.

   If one knows the paintings belonging to Vermeer, it is quite amazing to find a painting about a view. However, topographic views of cities had become a tradition by the time Vermeer painted his famous canvas. Hendrik Vroom was the author of two works depiciting Delft, but they are more archaic as they follow the traditional panoramic approach that can be seen in the cityscapes by Hercules Seghers at the Berlin museum. The latter artist was one of the first to make use of the inverted Galilean telescope to transcribe the preliminary prints and their proportions (more than twice as high as wide) into the more conventional format of his paintings.

   Vermeer shooted his “View of Deflt” on the first floor of a house in the south of the river Schie. He worked on the spot, but the optical instrument pointed towards the city and providing the artist with the aspect translated onto canvas, which we admire for its consciseness and special structure, was not the camera obscura but the reversed telescope. It is only the latter that codeness the panoramic view of a given sector, diminishes the figures of the foreground to a smaller than normal magnification, emphasizes the foreground as we see in the picture, and by the same signe makes the remainder of the composition recede into space. The image obtained provides us with optical effect that, without being unique in Dutch seventeeth-century painting, as often claimed, convey a cityscape that is united in the composition and enveloped atmospherically into glowing light.

   We admire the town, but it is not a profile view of a township, but an idealized representation of Delft, with its main characteristics simplified and the cast into the framework of a harbour mirroring selected reflections in the water, and a rich, full sky wik magnificent cloud formations looming over it.

   The “View of Delft” is chronologically the last painting by Vermeer that was painted in rich, full pigmentation, with colour accents put in witha full loaded brush. The artist outdid himself in a rendition of his hometown, which stands as a truly great interpretation of nature.

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