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If a work of art is an expression of the artist's temperament, Johannes Vermeer might be considered a deeply contemplative man. And if his work were said to have a theme, it might be termed the power of woman to hallow home and the sacredness of the quiet or private moment. Yet with eleven children and creditors at the door, his home was hardly peaceful, and he probably had little time for contemplation.


Born in 1632 to a weaver of cloth and occasional dealer in art, Vermeer spent his entire life in Delft, eventually gaining in reputation to become one of the heads of the Guild of St. Luke before his death in 1675. Only some 36-40 paintings can definitely be ascribed to him, his oeuvre missing any apprentice works, studies, and sketches. No doubt some major canvases have become lost through the centuries.

Although his early paintings were biblical, genre scenes and townscapes, and his later compositions were allegorical, he is most known for quiet domestic scenes catching a moment in great stillness. Enigma is his hallmark quality. There is often an ambiguity of situation, a mystery of what the painted figure is actually thinking, which makes Vermeer ripe material for the fiction writer.

For an extensive art history image library

The Essential Vermeer Lover
The most complete site including Vermeer's life, paintings, interpretations, techniques, thefts, auctions, forgery, Delft, The Golden Age of Dutch Painting, relevant social history and more, by Jonathan Janson, contemporary painter of Girl in Hyacinth Blue, commissioned for the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.