Art Painting

Was Vermeer a painter of delight or a staunch Jesuit? New ebook challenges our information of the artist

Famend for portray younger ladies, love letters, musicians, pearls and glasses of wine, Johannes Vermeer seems to us as a fairly secular artist, capturing the pleasures of life. However a brand new biography, resulting from be printed later this month, presents him as a staunch upholder of the Jesuit order of the Catholic church.

Gregor Weber, the pinnacle of high-quality arts on the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, has written Johannes Vermeer: Religion, Mild and Reflection. He believes the ebook will “overturn standard understanding of the artist and his work”. His biography is being printed by the museum forward of its bold Vermeer survey exhibition, co-curated by Weber, which opens on 10 February.

Vermeer was introduced up as a Protestant within the Dutch Reformed Church. Though it has lengthy been recognized that his spouse Catharina Bolnes was a Catholic, the complete extent of his dedication to her faith could come as one thing of a shock.

After their marriage they lived in a neighbourhood of Delft referred to as Papist’s Nook (Papenhoek) and all of their 15 youngsters had been raised as Catholics. One son was named Ignatius, after the Spanish founding father of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola. The constructing subsequent to their dwelling was a Jesuit mission, which included a church with seating for 700 worshippers.

Weber writes: “Johannes and Catharine raised their youngsters in that religion, following the necessities set by the Church… Thus, the idea that he, too, transformed to Catholicism turns into much more possible.”

Weber factors to a number of of Vermeer’s 37 surviving work as proof of his adopted faith. Most evident is his Allegory of the Catholic Religion (round 1670-74, Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, New York), accomplished shortly earlier than his loss of life. An image of the Final Judgment, a reminder of the significance of Christianity, hangs within the background of the sooner work Girl Holding a Steadiness (round 1662-64, Nationwide Gallery of Artwork, Washington, DC).

An illustration of a digital camera obscura, from Johann Zahn Oculus, artificialis teledioptricus, Neurenberg (1669) Picture: Utrecht College Library

Analysis for the ebook uncovered additional proof to help the controversial view that Vermeer used a digital camera obscura to assist him compose his inside scenes. Weber found a portrait drawing by a priest from the neighbouring Jesuit church, Isaac van der Mye, who was additionally an artist. Not too long ago recognized within the Rijksmuseum assortment, it dates from round 1650 and depicts an aged lady as St Apollonia. Weber believes that it was most likely drawn utilizing a digital camera obscura, by projecting a picture from beneath onto a glass disk, on which the skinny parchment was positioned for tracing. Weber speculates that Vermeer might have acquired Van der Mye’s digital camera obscura after the priest’s loss of life in 1656.

He goes on to put in writing: “Mild and optics had been a significant focus of Jesuit devotional literature: the order regarded the digital camera obscura as a instrument for the remark of God’s divine gentle. There may be even a sermon that explores intimately the inventive and ethical facets of the digital camera obscura.” He factors to Vermeer’s seemingly use of such a tool in The Lacemaker (round 1666-68, Musée du Louvre, Paris), the place the objects within the foreground of the portray seem blurred.

Immediately we take pleasure in seeing Vermeer’s depictions of younger ladies in home interiors, resembling his Girl with a Pearl Necklace (round 1662-64, Berlin State Museums), with out often contemplating them in a spiritual context. To Twenty first-century eyes, his fantastically crafted inside scenes supply up tranquil and stylish pleasures of wine, ladies and music. Nonetheless, as Weber’s analysis reveals, Vermeer’s cautious compositions are sometimes metaphors for the transience of worldly issues.

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