Australian Fine Artist

Johannes Vermeer

Video of the life and style of a Dutch Master

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialised in domestic interior scenes of daily life. During his life the 80 year war with Spain was in progress and there was a lot of political one social upheaval. From it came a basis for a more layered society based less on aristocracy.

His early works had some religious themes but as his style progressed he was able to concentrate on themes that were of more interest to him. Having won over the favour of his mother in-law who left him money in her will, Vermeer was set up in a position where he started on the paintings that he is now famous for.

His scenes of the every day and his idealism of subjects by softening and clever use of light are still sought after today and have made him a master of Dutch painting.

Vermeer used various textures in various parts of a painting to represent different surfaces. He studied his subjects, such as the human figure. The subjects are kept simple, we are led into the focal point with clever use of perspective and composition. In many cases everything centres in on the female figure in the painting, performing a very simple chore or lost in thought. The phrase “lost in a moment” comes to mind when looking at many of the figures he painted.

With so much turmoil going on in the world around him, Vermeer chose to paint those moments in time that are so easily lost. The ordinary tasks of every day life in his time. I find a sense of peace and harmony in his works. I love his use of light and gentle expressions in his faces.

Vermeer died at only 43 years of age. The art market and the country was in ruin after the invasion of the French and Vermeer was not in the mainstream of art for many years. Since he was rediscovered Holland has taken him as one of , if not the master of his craft in the country’s history.


I really enjoyed this video. I noted an underlying theme of people near windows through many of Vermeer’s works. He painted the light as it touched his subject and the room around them. Little bits and pieces were highlighted by the glints of light coming from them and colour was cleverly used to bring your attention to the focal point.

We were told that on one occasion Vermeer painted out a whole painting he had included on a wall behind a subject in one of his portraits. Considering the time involved to do that I was so happy to see that master that we so admire sometimes changed their mind, or was unhappy with part of a painting and willing to change it significantly.

When only segments of a painting were looked at, Vermeer’s style became timeless. Brushstrokes were visible, we were able to see how just the touch of a brush could become a pearl earring or the impression of milk being poured from a jug and his application of beautiful bright colours. Methods that are just as applicable today as they were in the 17th Century.

Task: Contrast Johannes Vermeer with Robert Rauschenberg

I have noted these in bullet points.

• Rauschenberg uses materials from daily life in his “found” materials artworks whereas Vermeer painted scenes from daily life as subjects in his paintings

• Both artists had a small town background

• Both artists interested in the available technology of the day

• Rauschenberg has the addition of sculptural elements whereas Vermeer represented 3D using paint and perspective in paintings

• Rauschenberg’s works have a sense of distancing the viewer whereas Vermeer brings the viewer into the room with his subject

• Rauschenberg is rather objective in contrast to the personal and intimate feel of Vermeer’s portraits

• With Rauschenberg I tend to look at technique but with Vermeer I look at and become involved in the moment before thinking about technique


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