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Creator / Johannes Vermeer

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Johannes Vermeer (October 1632 – December 1675) was a Dutch 17th century painter who, together with Rembrandt van Rijn and Frans Hals is one of the most famous Dutch painters of all time. His work is considered to be among the finest examples of realistic painting, especially the way he used color and the illusion of light in his work. Most of his life is Shrouded in Myth. Not much is known about his private life, let alone what he might have looked like. This only adds to the mystery of his almost inhuman perfect painting.

His work Girl with a Pearl Earring has its own page. He is furthermore best known for "The Allegory Of Painting", "The Milk Maid", "View of Delft", "Girl With Wine Glass", "The Lacemaker" and "The Love Letter".


Johannes Vermeer provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Title: "Het Melkmeisje" ("The Milk Maid")
  • Author Appeal: His paintings feature a lot of young women, often in front of a window.
  • As the Good Book Says...: His early works have biblical themes, such as "Christ in the house of Martha and Maria" and "Diana and her Nymphs".
  • Bottle Episode: The majority of his paintings show the same small rooms in his house in Delft and often feature the same people, mostly women.
  • Creator Cameo: The painter on "The Art Of Painting" might be a self portrait, according to some art historians. The same has been said of the man with the blue costume and black baret on "The Procuress".
  • Dead Artists Are Better: His reputation has risen considerably in the centuries after his death, far more than during his own lifetime.
  • Heavy Meta: "The Art Of Painting" shows a painting of a painter making a painting.
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  • Improbably Female Cast: Vermeer painted mostly women, hardly any men, children, older people or animals.
  • Light Is Good: Vermeer is praised by artists and art fans alike for the way he uses natural light in his works. It often illuminates the women depicted in his work and makes us as the audience automatically feel sympathetic to them.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Vermeer's paintings depict everyday people in domestic settings, doing everyday things like making lace, drinking wine or pouring milk, but are done so breathtakingly realistic that they are amazing to look at.
  • Person with the Clothing: "Girl with a Pearl Earring", "Girl With The Red Hat", "Woman With A Pearl Necklace".
  • Real Life: His major claim to fame is the way he managed to make almost photorealistic paintings. It has been suggested that he used a camera obscura to pull this off, but even then it's fabulously impressive.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Who taught Vermeer how to paint? Historians still debate the identity of Vermeer's instructor; some theorize Carel Fabritius or Abraham Bloemaert trained Vermeer. Some guessed that Vermeer maybe even taught himself how to paint.
  • Scenery Porn: His "View On Delft" is renowned for its depiction of the sky and the light reflecting in the river.
  • Starving Artist: Vermeer was this by the time he died. Vermeer's surviving family was left in debt, he used expensive pigments to mix his paints, he didn't sell many paintings during his life and an economic downturn in 1672 hurts his livelihood more.

Johannes Vermeer in popular culture

  • Salvador Dalí was obsessed with Vermeer's work. He used the central figure of "The Allegory Of Painting" in his own surreal work "The Ghost Of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As A Painting" (1934). [1]
  • The character Charles Swann in Marcel Proust's In Search Of Lost Time is working on an extended essay concerning Vermeer's art.
  • Tracy Chevalier's novel Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999), which was made into a 2003 film Girl with a Pearl Earring starring Scarlett Johansson. Colin Firth portrays the iconic painter.
  • Russel Hoban's novel The Medusa Frequency spoofs "Girl With A Pearl Earring" on the cover. This is a reference to the character Hermann Orff, who has a slight obsession with Vermeer.
  • Animal Crossing: "The Milkmaid" ("Quaint Painting") and "Girl With A Pearl Earring" ("Wistful Painting") are purchasable from Crazy Redd.
  • Carmen Sandiego: "The Duke of Vermeer Caper" is about the fictional theft of "Woman in Blue Reading A Letter" from the Rijksmuseum. It's explained that while Vermeer painted rather mundane subject matter, he did so with impressive attention to detail, which is why his paintings are so highly valued.
  • The Last Vermeer revolves around art forger Han van Meegeren and the trial around whether he collaborated with the Nazis, involving the sale of "Christ and the Adulteress" for the sum of 1.6 million guilders.