Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Sphinx of Delft - Part Two

As I mentioned in last week's blog, very little is known about Vermeer (1632-1675). It's as if he arrived a fully-developed master painter into the Delft Guild of Saint Luke. To this day, the identity of his master(s), the nature of his training, and the period of his apprenticeship remain a mystery.

Naturally, this leaves room for speculation. The one thing certain is that styles of art, composition and subjects are a cultural matter and culture evolves slowly.

Artists generally start by copying popular styles and slowly developing their own individual expression. Based on that notion, it is possible to speculate that Vermeer was influenced by several contemporary painters.

Carel Fabritius (1622-1654), who apprenticed with Rembrandt, could have been an influence. His portraits were very similar to Rembrandt and he used perspective in innovative ways which seems to have influenced Vermeer.(left: Fabritius; right: Vermeer)

Another influence often speculated was Gerard Ter Borch (1617-1681), who painted "genre" or scenes of daily life. (Left: Ter Borch; right: Vermeer)

Then there was Pieter de Hooch, who lived in the same town as Vermeer and shared Vermeer's style and subject matter. His paintings, like Vermeer’s, are usually small and display the same great power of composition.

So, there you have it, dear reader. When you compare their styles and subjects, do you agree that Fabritius, ter Broch or de Hooch could have influenced Vermeer?


  1. I really see a relationship in the last two and Vermeer. Jay

  2. Hi Jay,

    It's hard to find any images on the first artist, Carel Fabritius, because he died at the age of 32 when a city gunpowder magazine exploded. It not only burned down his studio and most of his art, but took his life. RA

  3. From these three examples it looks as though all could have influenced Vermeer. If so, the addition of his own style resulted in work that has more vibrance. His use of light is amazing. sz

  4. SZ: I absolutely agree. There is a quality to his work that is exceptional. RA