The Paintings of Johannes Vermeer

During the Baroque Period, Johannes Vermeer was an artist who was renowned for his work in Delft and The Hague. He is known for his paintings of the middle class life of the Dutch people, particularly for his scenes of domestic interiors.

Johannes Vermeer

Early works

Among the many famous works of Johannes Vermeer, there are a number of early works that are not commonly seen in exhibitions. The artist’s early work is an exemplary example of his mastery of figure painting. His use of light and shadow is evident in these works, which display his exceptional skill in incorporating the right colors to highlight the subject.

Johannes Vermeer was born in Delft, the Netherlands, in October 1632. He was the son of a cloth weaver and housewife. His father and mother named their first child Ignatius after the saint who founded the Jesuit order. They had 14 children in total. They were forced to hide their religious beliefs and services in order to avoid persecution in much of Northern Europe.

In the early years of his career, Vermeer painted scenes of daily life. These depicted a cross-section of seventeenth-century Dutch society. His subjects were often simple and straightforward, but his compositions were sophisticated and well-thought-out. His paintings contained a variety of references to morality, which were often obscured by the vibrant realism of the subjects.

In the late 1650s, Vermeer started painting domestic interiors. These were typically small in format, with the subject usually located in the left-hand corner of the canvas. Most of his later works were contemporary in nature, characterized by a calm sense of composition and a cool palette.

The artist’s interest in the behavior of light is also evident in his early works. The camera obscura, a device that provided an image of a sunlit object on a dim background, was a source of inspiration. This allowed the outside image to receive reflections from the interior, which enhanced the effect.

In the early years of his career, Johannes Vermeer was a member of the Guild of St. Luke, which provided him with opportunities to learn from other artists. He was elected as the head of the guild in 1662. He was re-elected four times, in 1670, 1672 and 1675. Most of his patrons were friends and family.

Johannes Vermeer’s early work shows strong influence from Caravaggio. He had a friendship with the leading Delft painter Leonard Bramer. He also had an influence from Gerard Terborch. Terborch painted similar scenes, and his work may have inspired Vermeer to pursue these types of scenes.

Influence on Delft

During the 1650s, Vermeer exchanged ideas with other painters of Delft. One of these artists was Gabriel Metsu, who combined realist techniques with emotion and violence. Another was Pieter de Hooch, who also followed the wave of Dutch Golden Age painting.

In the mid-1650s, Vermeer enrolled in the local artists guild. He became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke, which was the local trade association for painters. He was exempted from the membership fee due to his financial hardships. In 1662, he was elected head of the guild.

During his time in the guild, he painted two landscapes, a portrait of William of Orange and a portrait of his son, Willem I. In 1822, Vermeer’s townscape of Delft, viewed from the south, was purchased for 2,900 guilders. The painting was later bought by the Mauritshuis museum.

Vermeer’s work was only appreciated in the 19th century. He was largely forgotten for several decades. After his death, his influence was recognized and his paintings become part of the collective imagination.

One of the most famous Vermeer paintings is the View of Delft. It was inspired by a painting by Dirck van Baburen. The painting features a tower that contrasts with the Oude Kerk tower. The belfry is in shadow. The composition is divided into four bands. The town is framed in profile.

In addition to a wide range of historical precedents, Vermeer’s Delft painting was influenced by Caravaggio’s followers in Utrecht. He incorporated biblical stories into his paintings.

Vermeer’s work is notable for its subtle ingenuity. He used a camera obscura to project an image of sunlit objects, and was sensitive to light and shadow. He often used white lead and the natural ultramarine pigment, which is made from crushed lapis lazuli. He often tried to capture glittering reflections in fabrics and metal surfaces. He used judicious distribution of sunlight and shadow to produce harmonious images.

During his lifetime, Johannes Vermeer lived in the city of Delft and was a member of the local art guild. He had no formal education, but absorbed knowledge from the works of other brilliant painters.

Transition to Catholicism

During his lifetime, Johannes Vermeer’s transition to Catholicism wasn’t necessarily smooth. The country was in the throes of the Franco-Dutch War, which had an effect on the economy and prompted many people to panic. The French army under Louis XIV invaded the Netherlands. The Dutch Republic had no religions that were outlawed. The Catholics were not allowed to build new churches or to be elected to the national assembly. They were also not allowed to participate in the civil service and were barred from jobs in the municipal government.

In the seventeenth century, sending love letters was considered a sign of adultery. In order to be considered a good writer, one had to be able to send a message that was both personal and profound. In the case of Vermeer, he produced a painting that was not only a well-written message, but a moving work of art.

The “Woman Holding a Balance” is an allegory of faith. It depicts a young woman in a red dress, who appears to be holding a balance. In addition to her balance, she has a yellow woolen shawl and pearls around her neck. Her hair is tied in red and white ribbons.

The painting is an allegory of the triumph of the Catholic Church over sin and evil. The crushed snake in the foreground represents the victory of God over evil. It is said that Vermeer’s painterly techniques were subtle, but his hints and allusions still ring true. The young woman looks to the left, half-smiling at the viewer.

The painting has been compared to two paintings in the National Gallery, London. However, Vermeer’s is larger and has a more elaborate composition. He has achieved subtle manipulations of perspective and color. The scene is crowded with decorative elements, which has led to multiple interpretations.

In the sixteenth century, the Catholic faith was a highly popular religion in the Netherlands. In the seventeenth century, the Catholic faith was not forbidden. During this time, the Protestants were able to open private churches, while the Catholics were not. The Dutch Republic had a Catholic church, but it was hidden.


During the seventeenth century, Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer painted two Townscapes. The first is a view of the city of Delft from the south. The second is a large panoramic townscape. The painting is considered the masterwork of Vermeer’s career.

Vermeer’s View of Delft was sold at auction for 200 guilders in 1696. The painting is an example of the Dutch Golden Age. It was acquired by the Mauritshuis for 2,900 guilders in 1822.

Vermeer’s painting is one of the only two Townscapes to survive. Unlike most topographical paintings, this work was purchased at auction for a good price. It is an important treasure of the realist Dutch Baroque style. The work retains critical appreciation even after Vermeer’s death.

In the painting, Vermeer depicts light as hundreds of colourful dots. He also uses contrast and shade. The buildings are emphasized in darker shades and rooftops are painted in lighter shades. The alleyway is also accented with red, blue and yellow. He used a pointillist technique to suggest reflections.

It is likely that Vermeer painted the painting from the upper floor of a house. He may have had personal memories associated with the location. He could have used an optical device to help him achieve a precise perspective.

In addition to his artistic accomplishments, Vermeer was also known for his allegorical undertones. He included musical comments, scientific observations and religious commentary in his writing. His subjects ranged from the humble milkmaid at work to the rich notables in their homes. His subjects were a cross-section of seventeenth-century Dutch society.

Throughout his career, Vermeer produced a number of genre pieces, including portraits. His paintings focus on judicious distribution of shadow and sunlight, as well as dark reflections in the water.

He also painted interior scenes, such as a young woman reading a letter. In her reflective mood, she provides the viewer with a sense of timeless beauty.

Several of Vermeer’s works were bought by unidentified collectors. The majority of his canvases are still in existence, though only 34 are currently in public hands. Many of these paintings are located in Amsterdam and The Hague.