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Influencing Me – Johannes Vermeer

love_letter

Painters to me are very important, we can learn a lot looking at ones from the past.  I also wonder if photography had been available would they have been photographers as well, here is one painter that I think might have been.  I don’t know that Jan Vermeer would have been a photographer exclusively, but I could imagine he would have taken many photos for his painting.  We know that he used new things like the camera obscura, so I don’t think it is implausible to think he would have used a camera.

love_letterI know people will disagree with me, I find there is something very photographic about his images.  He is described as a Dutch Baroque Painter from that period, he was born in 1632 and died 1675.  He lived a short life.

913px-Johannes_Vermeer_-_Het_melkmeisje_-_Google_Art_ProjectThere is something about the ordinary in his work. The way he tried to capture everyday life and the people around him.  In the movie “Girl with a Pearl Earring” they depict him as setting up scenes and putting models in them while he did a lot of the background painting, and looking at his perspective and attention to detail, I suspect that part was very true.  It is believed he used the camera obscura to get the perspective correct.

866px-Girl_with_a_Pearl_EarringIn the movie they say this is the maid, but I don’t think they actually know who it is. We do know that it is one of his most recognisable paintings.  Whether because of the movie or not.  Most people know of this painting.

I think his style is quite unique and there is something about how he paints that really grabs my attention.  I love his subject matter, the ordinary, in so many ways, and it is great for us that someone like him has given that to us, a glimpse into everyday life of the 17th century.

view_of_delftThis sort of scene is something I go out with my camera to try and capture.  The town with the river, and the beautiful light.I don’t know if it is morning or evening, but have always assumed it is meaning.

It is easy for us to sit back and wonder what he would have been had he been born a century or two later, but I feel confident saying, he would have loved photography.  Of course, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t still have painted, there are many painters now that also enjoy photography as well.

I found a great website with lots of information about Vermeer, it is Essential Vermeer.  Now here is a gallery for you to look at.

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110 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this painter.
    Thank you for this magnificent work.

    February 17, 2014
    • His work is amazing, and the colours, well, they are great.
      You are welcome, thank you.

      February 17, 2014
  2. Reblogged this on Victoria 2070 a.d..

    February 17, 2014
  3. He does use light in the most vivid way, but the ‘Pearl Earring’ is one of the few where I find the treatment of the face pleasing.

    February 17, 2014
    • Yes, I have to agree Colonialist, he certainly does. I know what you mean about the faces, they do look strange, well most, but I also think it had something to do with painters at that time. Thanks.

      February 17, 2014
  4. You’ve selected a master of the finest order. Vermeer was a creative genius, influencing generations after generations image-makers. All art forms influence and inspire other art forms.

    February 17, 2014
    • Thank you Sally, I think so too. We do learn so much by looking at those that have gone before us.

      February 17, 2014
  5. I think you’re probably right, Leanne.
    I can’t imagine his patience and skill – the detail is astounding. The painting of the brick facade especially or the folds in a long skirt or the intricacies of a stained glass window, and the way he captures lighting. Books and letters are placed or read by the light of a window.
    In the second painting in your post, I love that you see her “tan line” – that’s so real.
    Thanks for a wonderful post –
    Mary

    February 17, 2014
    • I can’t imagine it either Mary, I know I don’t have the patience, well not for painting, I have done it, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted.
      I hadn’t noticed the tan line, so thank you for pointing it out.
      Glad you like the look at Vermeer, always good to take more than one look, thanks Mary.

      February 17, 2014
  6. A very good chap to be influenced by. My favourite painter.

    February 17, 2014
  7. Good Afternoon: Most of Vermeer’s paintings are so quite in their subject and tone that it always comes as a surprise when they astonish me. No doubt his work can inspire photographers and other artists today. Personally, I have found a great deal of inspiration in the paintings of Edward Hopper. Vonn Scott Bair

    February 17, 2014
    • I love the quietness of his paintings, and I find the same with Hoppers, another artist I love, actually Edward Hopper would be one of my top 4 artists. Thank you.

      February 17, 2014
  8. I love his use of lighting in all his paintings. It’s soft and the scenes are comforting to me.

    February 17, 2014
    • His use of light was quite extraordinary Em, I totally agree with you. It is really how you would expect the light to be.

      February 17, 2014
  9. Hi Leanne,
    I’m loving this one. I like the realism. It makes me wish I could paint! :)

    February 17, 2014
    • That’s great to hear Marsha, I love him too, very realistic. :)

      February 17, 2014
      • :) I’m working on hard on my book now learning all about publishing, and deciding what I want to do. So much to learn. :)

        February 17, 2014
      • So much to learn, there are so many writers here on WP I am sure you are lots of help.

        February 17, 2014
      • The best tips I’ve read are from Dianne Gray. Have you read her most recent post? It’s hilarious! :)

        February 17, 2014
      • I don’t know her Marsha.

        February 17, 2014
      • No!!!! She’s an Australian author. I’ve done several book reviews of her books. You would enjoy her writing. Check out her blog. You’ll love her. :) Her blog is the same as her name.

        February 17, 2014
      • I had a quick look at her blog, I looked up her name. Thanks Marsha

        February 18, 2014
      • Let me know if she doesn’t become a favorite REAL soon! I think she will be. :)

        February 18, 2014
      • :)

        February 18, 2014
  10. Reblogged this on Pillow Walker.

    February 17, 2014
  11. I enjoyed looking at Vermeer’s work when I visited the art museum in Amsterdam. When looking at works like his I am always grateful to museums and the fact that these works can now be seen by many.

    February 17, 2014
    • I agree Colline, I have even seen a couple, a couple came here a couple of years ago, I think the first one was here. I was so surprised at how small they were. They are always so much better to look at in person.

      February 17, 2014
      • I agree. Though sometimes I wish I could get closer :)

        February 17, 2014
      • And that you could view it with no one else around, that would be nice too. Have him all to yourself. :)

        February 17, 2014
  12. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    I LOVE Vermeer!

    February 17, 2014
  13. I love this painter! Love the post!

    February 17, 2014
  14. Thanks for this informative, interesting and wonderful post.

    February 17, 2014
  15. richterb #

    couldn’t agree more – I’ve dedicated a page to painters/photographers who have inspired me to capture pictures based on their work – Warhol, Richter, Seurat, Pollock, Altdorfer et al: http://fotorichter.wordpress.com/at-the-museum/

    February 17, 2014
    • That is a great idea, I dedicate my Monday posts to that.

      February 17, 2014
  16. His work is absolutely fascinating and I had never thought of him as a possible photographer, I think you’re right!
    Have you ever watched ‘Vermeer, Master of Light’? If not, you’ll love it, it’s a pure delight (What makes a Vermeer … a Vermeer? The light? The colours? The textures?)…
    Worth Admiring – Vermeer:

    http://almofate.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/admiring-vermeer-admirar/

    February 17, 2014
    • It is an interesting idea, there are possibly a number of the masters that might have been photographers as well if born at another time. No I haven’t seen that, well, not that I am aware of.

      February 17, 2014
  17. Thanks for sharing this with us, Leanne! Yes, I think you’re right, he would have been a photographer. His paintings are incredible, for the reasons you state, and also the depiction of 3 dimensions.

    February 17, 2014
    • That is interesting, yes, 3D, I think you are so right there.

      February 17, 2014
  18. The light in the paintings is just exquisite, and I agree that some look photographic. I get such creative inspiration by going to museums or art exhibits and seeing the work of the artists there.

    February 17, 2014
    • So do I Angeline, it is such a great thing to do. Some of the images are so realistic.

      February 17, 2014
  19. Excellent, Leanne! I love the way the painter commanded the light in all his works. Thanks so much! :)

    February 17, 2014
    • I love that too Fabio, he was a master at it. Thanks.

      February 17, 2014
      • Thanks very much, Leanne! Job well done, again and again! :)

        February 17, 2014
      • You are very welcome Fabio.

        February 17, 2014
  20. Couldn’t agree more, Leanne. His work and light are brilliant. You must be sure to see the documentary; Tim’s Vermeer. Here’s a brief description lifted from the website as well as the link to the page. Check it out!
    Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, (Video Toaster, LightWave, TriCaster) attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) manage to paint so photo-realistically – 150 years before the invention of photography?

    http://sonyclassics.com/timsvermeer/

    February 17, 2014
    • Thanks for the link Cheryl I will check it out. His work is really brilliant.

      February 17, 2014
  21. Ahh, A bit of color on this posting LC? Great painter, classic images on canvass.

    February 17, 2014
    • Lots of colour Ron, he does do some lovely colours.

      February 17, 2014
  22. Beautiful paintings 😀

    February 17, 2014
  23. thank you so much for this post… I love Vermeer’s work, when I first came upon his paintings I was very impressed by the way he uses window light in many of his works… loved reading all the comments too… thank you once again, Leanne… great way to start my week… :)

    February 17, 2014
    • I agree, his use of light was so good. I love the colours too. You are welcome and thank you too Alexandra. :)

      February 17, 2014
  24. Depth of field in a few of his paintings. It’s like he was looking through a lens.

    February 17, 2014
    • I know what you mean, that is so true.

      February 17, 2014
      • Vermeer – yes a wonderful inspiration to any photographer.
        Rembrandt too has that way of capturing light that us photographers aspire to emulate.
        … and thanks for your kind words about the possible good weather in Melbourne – quite heartening !
        As you are a D800 user have a look at my first review of my new battery grip which I got this morning. Don’t know if that’s the sort of thing you’d use but it really is a great advantage when shooting verticals.

        http://optumphotography.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/another-new-piece-of-kit/

        February 17, 2014
      • I think so too, and I agree about Rembrandt, I might have to look at him some stage, I have looked at lots of his prints.
        You’re welcome David.
        I had one of those battery pack/grips for my D300s, and have thought about getting one for the D800, but at this stage, I am undecided. The bag I often take for the camera is quite small and it would fit in there with it. I haven’t thought about it for a while, so that probably means I don’t really need it.

        February 18, 2014
      • You’re probably right. I notice you do many more horizontal pix than verticals so the secondary shutter release would be of little benefit. I do a lot of portrait shoots so for me it’s very handy.
        But who needs the extra weight !?!
        My camera bag is too heavy anyway !

        February 18, 2014
      • It can be good in portraits, but I am still undecided about it.
        I know what you mean about the weight. LOL

        February 18, 2014
  25. The book by Tracy Chevalier called The Girl With A Pearl Earring is absolutely wonderful and far better than the movie! It is all about the way of life in Holland (The Netherlands) in 1600. It is fascinating! I had to get a good website of VerMeer’s work so I could see the paintings he was working in in the book.

    And yes, I do think his art looks photographic!

    February 17, 2014
    • That can be a problem when you read the book, I found that when I read the biography on Edward Hopper, though I had purchased before then a catalogue thing on all his works, which helped. I don’t think it ever occured to me that there was book on it, I might have to see if I can get it for my Kindle. Thank you for that.

      February 18, 2014
  26. Reblogged this on Kat's Art and Creativity and commented:
    VerMeer is one of my favorite artists and I also
    feel some of his paintings are indeed quite like a photograph. I adore his work!

    February 17, 2014
  27. I think you’re right that Vermeer might’ve been very drawn to photography. He seems so completely fascinated with angles of light and effects of colors and, really, isn’t that what photographers constantly manipulating as well?

    February 17, 2014
    • Yes, it is, I look at his work, and I think they are almost like photographs, and then there is his fascination with new things, like the camera obscura, so I can’t help wondering. I think he would still have painted, but he would have used photography as well. Many artists do both.

      February 18, 2014
  28. Interesting post once more. He was a great painter, a true artist, and what is photography if it’s not art and a kind of painting with light?

    February 17, 2014
    • Light is so important in photography, for all sorts of reasons, and you can see how important it is in his paintings as well. Thank you Chris.

      February 18, 2014
  29. He is/was an extraordinary painter. I agree with you on him maybe even being a photographer if he lived today. He is one of those painters that many of us forget but when you see his work you can’t help but view it more. This perspective, emotions and patience is well known and respected. Out of many of the artists of the past I believe his work is the most relate-able to many of us today.

    February 18, 2014
    • That is interesting what you have said there, the last part, I think his subject matter make it so, there are other artists who did similar, but he is the one well known for it. He did paint what seems to be the everyday. I do think he still would have painted today, but he would have taken photos too. Thank you for your thoughts here.

      February 18, 2014
  30. I can see the influence of the Dutch artists in some of your portrait work – detailed realism but a whole lot more – as if a portion of you are embedded within the capture. The move from fantasy painting (or depictions of religious scenes) to the real work – the ordinary – places Vermeer as the precursor to the likes of photographers such as Brassai, Larry Clark and Sally Mann. Thanks Leanne!

    February 18, 2014
    • I think I need to look at the Dutch Masters a whole lot more. I agree Robert, he was ahead of his time, and it is great to get glimpses of what their lives must have been like. I do like seeing paintings like that. I must admit I really don’t like going to the section of the gallery that has all the pre 16th century paintings, lots of gold, lots of religion. Thanks Robert.

      February 18, 2014
  31. thatnavaword #

    you know i could never appreciate art in high school or at tech, because it was so drilled into me that i need to find a reason behind everything.. that each stroke and splash of colour had to be analyzed… Why couldn’t something just be beautiful? If you can look at a pianting and just feel that it was pretty and you like it? isn’t that enough… lol it’s because i thought like that, that i got average Cgrades for Art History. lol completely off point to what you’re actually talking about.. but im just saying.

    but you’re right, i thin because his work is so ‘simple’, so ‘direct’, so ‘mundane’ in subject.. that it could have been a photograph…

    February 18, 2014
    • I think most people would say that about high school, LOL, though I never did art, I went to a very small one and art wasn’t part of the program. I did do it at Uni though, completely different thing altogether.
      I love his subject matter, so everyday. Thank you.

      February 18, 2014
      • thatnavaword #

        I actually went to an independent art school AFTER school, but lucky for me it counted as one of my subjects, so while everyone else has maths, i had a free period, lol spent in front of the teachers lounge doing homework,

        February 18, 2014
      • So did I, sort of, I went and did a Fine Arts degree, but there was no maths, I realise what you did was different, sounds interesting, did you have to do your homework there?

        February 18, 2014
  32. Reblogged this on Time Machine.

    February 18, 2014
  33. LB #

    I didn’t see the movie, but my book group read Girl With Pearl Earring. Fascinating story and re-introduction of the art of painting during this time period.

    February 18, 2014
    • Someone else mentioned the book LB, I might have to check it out. It was a very interesting time that they lived, I find it fascinating, but I wouldn’t want to live back then.

      February 18, 2014
  34. Hollands licht!

    February 18, 2014
  35. I just love Vermeer! Thank you for reminding us about him!

    February 18, 2014
    • You are welcome Svetlana, I had forgotten about him myself, good for me too.

      February 18, 2014
  36. I love this artist – thank you for sharing his work Leanne.

    February 18, 2014
    • You are very welcome Mary, I love his work too.

      February 18, 2014
  37. великолепно Ⓥ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★Ⓥ нет слов Ⓕ

    February 18, 2014
  38. Indeed Leanne, the early Dutch and Flemish painters had a great impact on my photography, make that life!, as well. I would spend hours in the galleries of the Cleveland Museum of Art admiring and studying these painters. The museum was just across the street from my college were I studied engineering. Those were happy days!

    February 20, 2014
    • We don’t have too many of their paintings in our galleries, so I have had to settle for looking in books, I have quite a collection of art books now.

      February 20, 2014
  39. What consummate skill ….to be able to create images like these….truly inspiring! : )) Trees

    February 20, 2014
  40. I think you are correct about him being interested in photography had the technology been available. You just have to look at the way he lights his subjects. As photographers we can learn from his studies of still life with people. Lovely gallery of his work.

    February 20, 2014
    • I think so too. I agree with you are saying Rod. I think we can learn a lot from him and other artists of his time.

      February 20, 2014
  41. Maggie Beck #

    In addition to his innovative use of light and his use of perspective, Northern European artists like Vermeer were also notable because they broke from the rigid structure of Renaissance religious art, instead painting everyday life and items. Vermeer was a master of this. I see that influence in your own work, Leanne, and have for a while. You have the ability to photograph something everyday or typical and create a piece that compels the viewer to look deeply – far more deeply than if s/he were to view the building, landscape, or ruin in travels. It is deeply valuable to study the masters of fine art through the centuries, not just the works of photographers, in order to construct our own sense of the world in our photography. Thanks ever so much for posting this.

    February 20, 2014
    • I agree with your comments on Vermeer Maggie, he certainly did that, I am so glad they got away from the religious paintings, I find these so much more interesting, I love seeing how people lived. What a beautiful compliment Maggie, that is wonderful, thank you so much, I love getting compliments like this, really inspires me to keep going.

      February 21, 2014
  42. This is a really nice article! I’m sure he would love the use of optics in the camera and was probably an early adopter of the camera obscurer. David Hockney has spent a lot of time tracing its beginninings and when artists like Vermeer started its use. The documentary is well worth a look. Thanks for a great article.

    February 25, 2014
    • I think he was all those Mike, from what I can gather he loved all those new things to help him get his paintings accurate. I might have to see if I can find the Hockney information. Thanks for that.

      February 25, 2014
  43. Jen #

    What a wonderful influence. The woman with a water pitcher is one of his works that I have always liked very much, probably more than “Pearl Earring”. The latter is winsome and intriguing indeed, but for some reason I find the former more compelling.

    February 28, 2014
    • I like other ones too Jen, I think the girl with the pearl earring is perhaps the most famous because of the movie, but I prefer the ones that give glimpses into what life was like back then.

      February 28, 2014
  44. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is one of my favorite paintings – met it for the first time at Mauritshuis Gallery in The Hague. I love the Dutch painters, love every detail in the laces … just like photos. I can understand why your are influenced by Vermeer. Beautiful post, Leanne.

    February 28, 2014
    • Glad you enjoyed it Viveka, sounds like it brought back some lovely memories too. I have never see the Girl with a Pearl Earring, I don’t think it has ever come to Australia.

      March 1, 2014
      • It has been in Hague for many years … I don’t think they dare to move it. It’s like Mona-Lisa.
        I hope you have seen the movie about the painting from 2003 with Scarlett Johansson.

        March 2, 2014
      • I did see the movie, I loved it. I don’t think they will either, and I don’t think we would be able to afford the insurance either.

        March 2, 2014
      • Maybe you one day visit the Netherlands. We never know what tomorrow brings.

        March 3, 2014
      • Maybe, I will. We lived in Denmark for 7 months about 20 years ago, and I would love to go back there, take photos this time. I was busy with a baby when we were there. Very true, you never know.

        March 3, 2014
  45. Bucket list item – time travel. Very nice post, Leanne!

    March 22, 2014

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