A man who is renowned in the whole world for his famous paintings and creations, yet, his life remains a mystery!
Known for his selection of themes and subjects in his paintings, Johannes Vermeer was mostly a self-taught artist.
It is indeed surprising that, out of his creations, only 36 paintings have survived to this date and are now placed in some of the most prestigious museums.
Even though little to no information is available about his life, whatever I researched and found helpful, I have compiled in this blog.
Let us go through the life of this super-talented Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer.
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Table of contents
Early Years and Career
Johannes Vermeer was born on October 31, 1632, in Delft, Netherlands, to Digna Baltens and Reynier Jansz.
His father, Reynier Jansz, was an art dealer and a silk weaver.
Vermeer began his art training in the mid-1640s.
Due to his father’s earnings, his family was able to purchase a large house that contained an inn, called the Mechelen.
Vermeer inherited the inn and the business of dealing art after his father’s death in 1655.
It is presumed that Reynier Jansz was an early influence on the young Vermeer.
Johannes Vermeer spent his whole life and artistic career in Delft and lived a pretty wealthy life.
It was due to the fact that he owned delftware factories, breweries, and tapestry-weaving ateliers.
With that being said, let us understand who all played a major role in influencing him and training him as an artist.
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Who Influenced Him?
Surprisingly, very little is known about Vermeer’s decision to become a painter.
On December 29, 1653, he registered as a master painter in the Delft Guild of Saint Luke.
It is a mystery how long he served there or what exactly the period was that he did the training for.
He was highly influenced by some of the artists, like Dirck van Baburen, Cesare Ripa, Leonaert Bramer, etc.
His achievement records don’t mention the period between 1640 and 1650, so it is assumed that was his learning phase.
Along with many other aspiring Dutch artists, he traveled to Italy, France, or Flanders.
He was indeed influenced by Rembrandt van Rjin, whose powerful techniques of chiaroscuro effects impacted Vermeer’s paintings.
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Involvement In Art Movements
Johannes Vermeer was a well-known Dutch painter who specialized in creating paintings that visually represented the 17th century domestic scenes of the middle-class life.
He was a painter from the Baroque period who was also active in the Dutch Golden Age.
Vermeer is considered one of the greatest painters, along with Rembrandt.
He captured the on-going scenery with perfection, which led to his development as a Baroque painter.
Moreover, he believed that his techniques and style of painting were way ahead of their time.
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Painting Style and Techniques
The master of the Baroque, Johannes Vermeer, was very well acquainted with colors.
He not only dedicated a lot of time to creating artwork but also used several techniques to make the paintings last.
He was known to utilize techniques like under-painting and monochromatic ground that gave his paintings that extra lift and bounce as well.
Vermeer also used lumps of color to enhance the surface effects of the colors on the canvas.
The reflections that are clearly visible in Vermeer’s paintings were achieved by him using pointillistic techniques.
Not only this, Johannes Vermeer also used Renaissance techniques such as chiaroscuro, but with a twist!
He mixed his own ways of mixing the colors to form light, shadow to provoke deeper emotions in the viewer’s mind.
Vermeer also used glazing techniques to make the painting shine.
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Johannes Vermeer, famously known as Vermeer of Delft, was a master of the Baroque style and also created some of the most astonishing artworks in the Dutch Golden Age.
He has created more than 30 paintings that have been renowned for their details, the use of colors, and many other factors as well.
Let us take a look at some of the famous paintings by Vermeer.
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Girl with a Pearl Earring
This painting by Johannes Vermeer features a girl with a slightly tilted head and depicts a society with mixed cultural backgrounds.
If you look closely and observe, then you can see that the pearl earring symbolizes the status of a wealthy being.
At the same time, the girl’s turban and not so western attire hint at cultural globalism.
To read more about this painting, click here.
Image Source: Etsy
The Milkmaid is one of the most famous paintings by Johannes Vermeer.
In this painting, Vermeer has gracefully depicted a maiden working in the kitchen area, and it is presumed that she is preparing it all to make cheese and breads.
This painting was a symbol of Vermeer’s depiction of hard work, efforts, and purity.
Woman Holding a Balance
In this painting by Johannes Vermeer, you can see a woman standing in front of a window that is covered with a yellow opaque curtain, which changes the sunlight to a warm yellow tone.
The woman is holding a balance in her hand, which represents that she is making a decision solely based on what the balance might show.
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Johannes Vermeer was in the phase of creating art and was dealing with it as well.
In 1653, Vermeer married a Catholic girl who hailed from Gouda, Her name was, Catharina Bolnes.
As a matter of fact, Johannes Vermeer, after getting into a relationship with Cathrina, converted to Catholicism.
Catharina hailed from a well-to-do wealthy family.
Together, the couple had 15 children, out of them, 11 survived, and the rest were buried during baptization.
Not much is known about the love life of Johannes Vermeer, but his wife was by his side until his death.
During the years of his marriage, he became one of the leading figures in the Delft art culture and also a master in the Delft painters’ association.
He was appointed as an officer in the same association from 1662 to 1663 and then again from 1669 to 1670.
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Final Years and Death
Everything was going smoothly in the life of Johannes Vermeer, but unfortunately, his life started going downhill during the invasion of Holland by France in 1672.
His art dealings and creations supported the family of 13 until 1672 adequately.
He was heavily in debt during the invasion, and three years later, in 1675, he died due to a short illness.
Vermeer’s wife and children were left in poverty. He was buried on December 15, 1675.
Soon after his death, his wife declared bankruptcy, and she solely believed that stress and financial problems ruined Vermeer’s health, which at last led to his death.
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This was all about the life of Johannes Vermeer, a man with immense talent and magic in his paintbrush.
His vision was futuristic, and his artwork showcased an immense level of detailing and intricate design as well.
Even though his artistic career was only 22-years-old, he did not draw many paintings, but whatever he drew, he drew with perfection.
He is the man behind famous paintings like a girl with a pearl earring, the milkmaid, etc.
Do you wish to own a painting that looks exactly like one of Vermeer’s paintings?
Then, worry no more, we have got your back.
You can now order a replica of the paintings by Johannes Vermeer and decorate it in your living room.
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This was all about the life of Johannes Vermeer.
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The Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer was famous for creating paintings that portrayed the effects of light and the daily lives of people during the 17th century.
Johannes Vermeer, in his lifetime, created forty paintings, out of which 36 are available to date.
Johannes Vermeer was highly influential in the Baroque period and the Dutch Golden Age. He used the techniques of the same period.