Johannes Vermeer has been a long time favorite artist of mine, ever since I discovered his work in Borders (the American book retailer), while searching for a historical romance to read at the fine young age of 14. Vermeer’s scenes of Dutch middle class daily life are exquisite, in that they always leave the viewer wanting more. There is a certain mystery in Vermeer’s detailed paintings, hence the piece that spawned a book and movie: The Girl with a Pearl Earring. Though Rembrandt is regarded as the master of light in the Dutch Golden Age, I would say that Vermeer is not far behind. The painter’s use of light in his genre scenes (mostly indoors!) are very special, and make his paintings of women truly unique.
To me, Vermeer was not only a painter of daily life, but also (this sounds cliché), of human emotion. He captured expressions, interactions, and relationships magically. If you look hard, you can see secrets and solitude, disappointment and joy, and that slightly seductive, somewhat innocent look of The Girl with a Pearl Earring. I think she is quite similar to the Mona Lisa in this way; she’ll be forever intriguing, but we’ll never know her secret.
Naturally, I just adore the interiors in his work. Looking at the dresses, pearls, oriental rugs, musical instruments and maps makes me swoon! What a different time period: so elegant and precise, but brimming with human feeling. Of course, one can’t ignore the languid primary colors in the women’s gowns. While the background is contrived of warm earth tones, and sun on the wall brings light, the figures in the forefront are donned in cornflower yellow, “Dutch blue,” and a brilliant red. Brilliant. I couldn’t think of a better word to describe these timeless works of art. xx Helen Anne