Vermeer's biography: light and interior design in his works

Vermeer's biography: light and interior design in his works

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Today it is our intention to bring you closer to the life and work of one of the most representative painters of the Dutch baroque, Johannes Vermeer, a great representative of interior design and one of the authors who has made the best use of light in his works.

On this occasion we have the help of Helena Jiménez Bermúdez, Graduated in History of Art and specialized in Baroque art, who from here we want to thank for their invaluable help.

Biography of Vermeer, commissioned painter and art dealer.

Johannes Vermeer He was born on October 31, 1631 into a family of art object merchants. As was the custom, Vermeer learned the profession from his father and as the son of a merchant he enrolled in the Guild of San Lucas.

It is at this time that the young Johannes is dazzled by art and when they begin their first dabbling with painting.

It should be borne in mind that Reynier, Johannes's father, was associated with the wealthy bourgeoisie of Delft, and with artists such as Pieter Steenwyck and Balthasar van der Ast, so it is not surprising that Vermeer also related to them and learned certain painting techniques in his youth", Explain Helena.

However, it would only be in the Guild of San Lucas where Vermeer, unleash the potential that he carried within and where he learned that personal interior style that characterizes him.

Not in vain, in the San Lucas guild there were many "commissioned" painters, those who painted exclusively for the wealthy bourgeois, very given to the pleasure of being portrayed in all sumptuousness in their ornate bedrooms and living rooms.

Own VermeerHe must have followed these same steps, becoming a commissioned painter, dedicated to the realization of personal works for the bourgeoisie. This fact, in addition, would explain why Vermeer's limited pictorial volume for the public art market.

April 20, 1653 Vermeer married Catharina Bolnes, with whom he had great offspring. This is one of the facts that have led to speculation that Vermeer, in addition to being a painter, could have dedicated himself to his father's profession, as an art dealer, trading in other people's works, which would have endowed him with some economic comfort.

The truth is that with the income that his commissions brought him, Vermeer could hardly have faced the cost of maintaining such a large family and with a certain quality of life”, Emphasizes Jiménez Bermúdez.

A singular style

Vermeer has always been conceived as the antagonist of the "little teachers.", since the "little master" painted luxurious and exotic objects, but always seen through the glass of the windows, contemplated from the street, as if they were observed by another pedestrian.

Vermeer chooses, however, through the interior spacesBut not looking for luxurious objects from high-class families, but something that was his great obsession in painting ... light.

Light and color in Vermeer's works

It is no accident that the growing interest in Vermeer coincided with the impressionist birth, with his rejection of the dark-hued academic style and his dedication to clear, pure-colored outdoor painting. Color is understood by the Impressionists as a quality of the perception of light, whose clarity, hue and saturation depend on the wavelength of the light.

The application of this theory of the natural sciences in painting had as a consequence that the color will begin to be seen as a phenomenon subject to variations in light, also depending on the perception of the viewer.

It is because of that Vermeer has had a great influence and appreciation among the impressionist public, as he still has it today and surely he had it in his time.

Vermeer was an innovator. His preference for balance in the arrangement of objects, the procedure of reducing complex structures to a few elements, his treatment of light and the way of applying color, reflect an aesthetic quality that was unique in his time.

It is difficult to understand how the artist could match, in such a subtle way, the ambient luminosity, but Helena reveals this question to us. "Today we know that Vermeer used the camera obscura to execute most of his works, we can see this in the marginal blurriness and in the points of light, the famous pointillé”.

And is that Vermeer did not try to capture reality as it was, but as our eyes see it, humanizing the image as the light is captured by the human eye.

The painter who created new spaces

The Dutch painting of his time was marked by deep social conventions and the rigidity of forms. An essential characteristic of this period is the strong individualization and isolation of the figures, portrayed with the tension and concern of those who know themselves portrayed. However, we can verify that this was not common in the vermeer painting.

In his works, such as “The milkmaid”, “The soldier and the laughing girl"Or"Woman with jug of water”, You can see that Vermeer depicts scenes of everyday life with exquisite grace and naturalness.

There is no trace of grimaces, distortions or forced figures, everything flows naturally, dispassionate even. "People, especially women, seem almost dispassionate, they do not show any emotion, it is a way of hiding their emotions, because they are theirs, there is no reason to impose them on the viewer”, Comments Helena Jiménez.

Finally, it is important to highlight the establishment of communication barriers by Vermeer. The motif of the table covered by a tapestry, which is repeated so often in his works, raises a barrier between the portrayed figures and the viewer, is part of Vermeer's symbolism.

The painter intended with this, in a subtle way, distance the viewer from the subject, mark a limit that the public could not cross. Before we explained that the painter tries to veto the emotions of his models, trying not to show everything, leaving room for personal privacy, and the fact that he interposes such communication barriers only emphasizes that idea.

Vermeer wants to show, but always maintaining a certain privacy, an intimacy that perhaps we understand when conceiving the painter as an "interior designer", is the intimacy of the home, that which occurs from the inside.”, Helena concludes.

Video: Vermeer: Master of Light-compilation