Johannes Vermeer, 1632-1675 (Rijksmuseum Dossiers) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/7/15
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This fascinating book takes a fresh look at the innovative role Vermeer played in Dutch art in the seventeeth century. It examines four paintings by Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum's collection, which span his whole career. As a dedicated artist with extraordinary visual sensitivity, Vermeer used optical instruments such as the camera obscura to determine perspective and develop a new artistic vision. Vermeer's own surroundings in Delft were the breeding ground for this modern art. Renowned during his lifetime but long misunderstood and neglected after his death, Vermeer is now a master who rightly enjoys worldwide fame.
Although Westermann uncovers no new ground, she does provide a wider scholarly forum for the compelling research by the London architect, Philip Steadman (do read his Vermeer's Camera) who has demonstrated not only Vermeer's use of the camera obscura but also has built a convincing case for the location of the Little Street (behind the Mechelin, the family inn in Delft). She also captures Vermeer's interest in the philosophy of perception so prevalent in the intellectual milieu of Vermeer's compass, as well as the early scientific efforts (particularly in the nascent field of optics) that accompanied speculation about perception.
Westermann occasionally makes claims she cannot substantiate, such as vouching for Vermeer's actual conversion to the Roman Catholic faith, and suffers a minor lapse by ignoring Vermeer's Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid, a painting in the love letter tradition Vermeer likely made after 1670, a time when Westerman states that the theme "may have been exhausted for ambitious modern painting." She also missed an excellent opportunity to expand on her earlier writings about the importance to Vermeer's art of a concept the Dutch called "houding," a theoretical precept by which painters of Vermeer's era sought to demonstrate their mastery by blending abstract, almost musically harmonious perspective design with convincing illusions of images in space to fool the eye and engage the viewer.
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) should be appreciated by scholars and neophytes alike, providing as it does so much relevant information about this complex artist with such beauty in highly accessible fashion.