Jan Vermeer of Delft (born in October 1632 – died in December 1675) – an outstanding Dutch artist of the 17th century, a classic of the Baroque era, one of the main representatives of the Golden Age of Dutch painting, the author of world-famous masterpieces of everyday genre and a wonderful portrait painter. Jan Vermeer owns one of the textbook paintings in the history of art – “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.
Vermeer worked in an era that is commonly called the Golden Age of Dutch painting. This is one of the most significant periods in the history of European art. The Dutch had a great influence on the development of painting skills both of their contemporaries and artists of subsequent centuries. Vermeer of Delft also made a huge contribution to the development of painting.
Biography of Jan Vermeer
Jan Vermeer was born in 1632 in the Dutch city of Delft and was baptized in the local church on October 31st. The boy’s father was engaged in weaving – he produced silk fabrics, then bought a tavern, and also became a member of the Guild of St. Luke in Delft, which united art dealers. Probably, the latter circumstance also influenced the choice of the life path of Vermeer Jr.
At the age of 21, the young man also became a member of this guild, which means that at that time he studied at least six years with a professional painter (according to the conditions of admission). Pieter de Hooch, who specialized in genre scenes, had a significant influence on the young man.
The fact that Jan Vermeer was a member of the Guild of St. Luke and even became its dean speaks of his authority in the professional environment. Every year he wrote an average of a couple of paintings, that is, he did not work for the quantity. Vermeer was paid quite well. However, third-party sources of income also helped to support a large family (the artist had fifteen children, of whom eleven reached adulthood). He was involved in the management of the family inn and was most likely an art dealer like his father.
But in 1672 the war with France began, and in Holland there was no time for art. His financial situation worsened. Unfortunately, Vermeer was not destined to live until peacetime. In 1675, the 43-year-old artist fell ill and died suddenly on December 15, leaving behind debts. To close them, the widow had to sell at auction the paintings left as a legacy. Jan Vermeer did not leave any disciples behind him.
The most famous paintings by Jan Vermeer
Paintings by Jan Vermeer were appreciated only by posterity. The painter received some recognition during his lifetime, he had patrons, but still his work was underestimated by his contemporaries. Because of this, many paintings were lost. In the 1930s, when the value of the master’s heritage became clear, his work even became the object of an attack by forgers.
In total, there are currently 34 paintings by this artist in museums and private collections. There are five other works that may also belong to his brush (their attribution is a matter of debate).