Johannes (Jan) Vermeer (1632–1675) was one of the foremost Dutch artists of the 17th century.

My favorite Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, which also inspired the 1999 novel of the same name by Tracy Chevalier, and the subsequent movie.

He remained relatively obscure during his lifetime and until the end of the nineteenth century, mainly because he produced only about forty-five paintings (of which thirty-six are known today) during his brief lifetime, primarily for a small circle of patrons in Delft. Most Dutch painters turned out hundreds of pictures for a much broader market.

The Milkmaid by Jan Vermeer

Vermeer’s father trained as a weaver but eventually became an innkeeper and art dealer. The art business exposed Jan to the formal conventions of past and current masters. Due to his father’s debts and death in 1652, Vermeer had to essentially train himself rather than study with a master. During most of his short career, his paintings earned high commissions and he was able to support his large family (he and his wife had eleven children), but the dismal Dutch economy of the early 1670s made his last few years challenging.

Lady writing a Letter with her Maid by Jan Vermeer

Vermeer’s paintings often feature a domestic world occupied mostly by women, whose postures, behavior, and expressions invite close study and sympathy. His works often hint at some connection between a figure and the viewer, making one feel like a voyeur.

The Astronomer by Jan Vermeer
The Art of Painting by Jan Vermeer
Mistress and Maid by Jan Vermeer. Oh, the light!
Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window by Jan Vermeer. This painting was recently restored, revealing a painting of Cupid on the wall behind the girl.

Images and information for this article came from Wikipedia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. If you’d like to go down a Vermeer rabbit hole, check out the Essential Vermeer website.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

Originally published at http://arhtisticlicense.com on October 19, 2021.

Former elementary general music teacher. Wife, and mother of five. Blogging about the arts and the creative process at https://ARHtisticLicense.com.

Former elementary general music teacher. Wife, and mother of five. Blogging about the arts and the creative process at https://ARHtisticLicense.com.