Friday, July 11, 2008

Throwing Vermeer into the mix

What the heck is it about Summer that makes things slow to a snail's pace? I'm not really sure, but after this Winter I'll throw my hat in the ring for saying that any excuse to be outside is a good one. I'll also say that Blogger's image uploading system was seriosuly lacking in co-operation earlier in the day... but I digress. With all that in mind today I'll do a brief overview of Vermeer's history so that either this week or next I can talk about why I'm combining van Gogh and Vermeer.

Without further ado...

"Woman in Blue Reading a Letter" J. Vermeer, c. 1662

Vermeer was born in 1632 in the city of Delft and up until the time he married in 1653 there isn't a whole lot of information about him, not even any clear indication of whom he may have studied under. His parents, Reynier Jansson(F) and Dignum Balthasar(M), were considered lower-middle class by today's standards and both were not particularly well educated. They worked very hard and despite this it seems that Vermeer's family was in constant debt. This may have something to do with the fact that Vermeer's own grandfather was a counterfeiter (who was arrested and convicted, I might add) and his grandmother ran illegal lotteries. It has been indicated in a few sources that it took well over 15 years for the debts from Vermeer's grandfather alone to be paid off.

Hardy the stuff of fairly tales.

"The Milkmaid" J.Vermeer, c.1658-1660

After marrying Catharina Bolnes there are many more records of Vermeer's existence as he became a professional artist and was actively involved in the local art community. It has been indicated that although Vermeer didn't enjoy widespread fame (nor wealth) from his painting during his lifetime he was a well-respected individual and held a head position in the local art and artisans guild on several occassions.
Vermeer and his wife had an unusual family situation in that they lived with Vermeer's mother-in-law, Maria Thins, as well as their children (they had 11, four of whom died in infancy or early childhood) and a maid. It was also unusual in that Vermeer married 1- outside of his social class and, more interestingly, outside of his religion. His family was predominately Protestant and his wife, Catharina, was a Catholic. This was very unusual for the time considering the religious hooplah taking place in that region at the time and also because it was the husband (Vermeer) and not his wife (Catharina) that was adopting a new religion in order to fit into/ be accepted by the family.

We're not here to talk about religion though, we're here to talk art.

"Woman Holdng a Balance" J.Vermeer, c.1664

With Vermeer there's lots to talk about and I suspect in the interest of not taking oodles of time I'll let you ponder (and drool as I have) over his art and think about why I've combined him and the absinthe- imbibing wonder in my studies. They're both Dutch, but that's as far as I'm going at this point.

Discuss. ;)


Lisa B. said...

Well, you've got me on this one. I see more differences between the two painters than similarities. They both bought paint from Sennelier?

Rita said...

lol, it's quite possible! :D