Johannes Vermeer was born in Delft in 1632 and along with Rembrandt and Frans Hals, was one of the most important painters in Holland in the 17th century. Documents pertaining to his life are scarce. His father was known to be an art dealer as was Vermeer.
Vermeer served on the boards of painters’ guilds, and his artwork garnered high prices. A slow and methodical painter who used expensive pigments., he produced few finished pieces in his lifetime, creating only two to four paintings per year.
His oil painting of his hometown is one of his best known works. The ‘View of Delft’ from c.1660 is recognized for its brilliant representation of light and his technical mastery.
He is also known for his interior domestic scenes. His ‘Head of a Girl’ is characterized by its simplicity, quietness and power. The forms in the painting are created by light.
Note how one can see the gleaming highlight on her pearl earring more so than the contour of the pearl. Her luminous face glows with light as she turns her head towards the viewer, her mouth open as if she is about to speak. She has been described as ‘the Mona Lisa of the north’. Despite speculation, her identity has never been known. Her exotic dress adds to her mystery. She has been made famous by the book and movie named, The Girl with the Pearl Earring.
Vermeer was forty-three when he died he died in December of 1675 after a short illness.
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