Interesting Facts About Johannes Vermeer

Interesting Facts About Johannes Vermeer

Who was Johannes Vermeer, and what did he do?

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter best renowned for his depictions of everyday life in the seventeenth century. Vermeer's artwork was not well recognized beyond the Delft and Amsterdam until the 19th century when French critic Étienne-Joseph-Théophile Thoré reevaluated it.

What is Johannes Vermeer famous for?

Johannes Vermeer's most notable piece is arguably Girl with a Pearl Earring although he is also noted for his genre paintings. His subjects are mostly ladies doing chores in indoor environments.

What was Vermeer's total number of paintings?

Vermeer's oil paintings that remain are 36 pieces. In contrast, Rembrandt, his great contemporaries, created hundreds of paintings as well as many engravings and drawings.

What makes Vermeer known as the "Master of Light"?

His initial canvases (linen paintings) are vibrant and rich in detail. His works become more serene as time goes by, and the subjects become clearer. The light is clean, calm, and slightly enigmatic. He was dubbed the Master of Light because of his painting method, which made him famous all over the world.

What caused Johannes Vermeer's death?

The economic collapse that followed France's invasion of Holland in 1672 had a negative impact on Johannes Vermeer's finances. He was deeply in debt when he died unexpectedly three years later, presumably after a brief illness, leaving his wife and children penniless. His wife feared that his health had been wrecked by stress.


Johannes Vermeer van Delft was his full name.

With "Jan" being a short form of "Johannes" and "Delft" referring to the town where he was born.

All through his life and the decades that followed, his artistic contributions went virtually unappreciated.

Though Vermeer is now regarded as one of the best painters of the Dutch Golden Age, he wasn't always regarded as such. He had little to no success as an artist until the 19th century, and many of his works were mistakenly attributed to other Dutch artists, such as Metsu and Mieris.

Vermeer's art gained notoriety for its vivid portrayals of middle-class life set in realistic rooms of homes only after the release of Théophile Thoré-catalogue Bürger's raisonné of his paintings in 1866, which resulted in swift focus and visibility.


Vermeer was the subject of a film.

In 2003, the novel "Girl with a Pearl Earring," based on Vermeer's most famous picture, was adapted into a film. The film starring Colin Firth as Vermeer and Scarlett Johansson as "Griet," a maid in his household, featured a fictional story of Vermeer.

The Dutch Master lacked official education, implying that he was self-taught.

Because the documentation and specifics surrounding his life are still sparse, it's unclear where and under whom Vermeer trained, if at all. Although there are many interpretations concerning Vermeer's influences, the prevailing view, initially proposed by American art expert Walter Liedtke, is that he was a self-taught artist.

He ran a bed and breakfast.

In 1652, Vermeer acquired his father's art trading company and two inns, which he inherited from his father. It is unknown when Vermeer began painting, however, he was a supporter of a painters' guild by 1853.


Only 36 verified Vermeer paintings exist in the world.

Vermeer was a meticulous painter who worked with great care and attention to detail. As a result, the artist's output was restricted; he currently owns only 36 canvases. Furthermore, Vermeer did not sign any of his works and only dated three of them (The Procuress, 1656; The Geographer, 1668–1669; and The Astronomer, 1668), making it difficult for researchers to authenticate them.

To further complicate matters, experts are hesitant to call a painting a Vermeer because of his wide-ranging effect on other painters and the risk of fakes.

A forger forged and sold pieces he advertised as freshly discovered Vermeers in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Han van Meegeren made paintings that he passed off as authentic Vermeers from 1938 to 1945, deceiving experts and collectors alike in a move that netted him nearly $30 million today. Van Meegeren's forgeries were only discovered after WWII, thanks to an unusual turn of circumstances.

Van Meegeren defended himself against suspicions of collaboration with the Nazis by stating that he had sold a bogus painting to renowned Nazi deputy Hermann Goering. As a result, van Meegeren went on to proclaim himself a hero for "hoodwinking" the enemies. Despite this, he was found guilty of fraud and condemned to a year in prison.


In a botched theft in 1971, Vermeer's Love Letter was taken from the Fine Arts Palace in Brussels.

A twenty-one-year-old man called Mario Roymans stormed into the Fine Arts Palace in Brussels on September 23, 1971, and stole Love Letter, which was on loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as part of the Rembrandt and His Age exhibition.

When Roymans realized Love Letter was too large to fit through the window he intended to flee through, he used a potato peeler to take it from the frame and stuffed the canvas into his back pocket. He later concealed it under his mattress, where it was crushed, and buried it in the wilderness, where it suffered water damage. Following the discovery of Love Letter, an international panel of Vermeer specialists was formed to restore the painting.

He spent his entire life in Delft.

Johannes Vermeer wedded a Catholic woman in 1653 and moved in with his mother-in-law. He would operate as a painter there for the rest of his life, dying at the age of 43.

Little Street, one of the two landscapes we have by him, demonstrates his passion for his hometown. Little Street depicts daily life in 17th-century Delft. We can already notice some of his most recognizable characteristics, such as his meticulous attention to detail.


To marry, he turned to Catholicism.

Johannes Vermeer married a Catholic woman named Catharina Bolenes (or "Bolnes"). However, because Vermeer was born and baptized in the "Reformed Church," he had to convert to Catholicism before marrying.

Vermeer does not appear to have had difficulty with this, and his conversion appears to have been sincere. A total of 15 children were born to the marriage. Four of them died as infants but were recorded as "children of Johannes Vermeer" in the municipal registry.

Regardless of his chosen profession, Vermeer pondered the purpose and significance of painting, as evidenced in the picture Artist in His Studio.

Artist in His Studio, also called The Allegory of Painting or Painter in His Studio, is one of Vermeer's most renowned and scrutinized works. It implies that Vermeer explored the role of painting via his own work, maybe while simultaneously desiring popularity.

The woman depicted is supposed to be a representation of either Pheme, the Greek goddess of fame, or Clio, the historian's muse. (Her laurel wreath, trumpet, and the book she clutches attest to this.) The map on the far wall emphasizes the painting's historical topic even more. Because the guy in the picture is supposed to be a self-portrait, it's safe to assume that Vermeer was fighting for painting's status as a respectable artistic activity and that he was thinking about not only painting's position in history but also his own.

He made use of high-end imported materials.

Vermeer was one of the few artists who lavished his work with expensive colors. This is unexpected considering he wasn't exactly wealthy during his lifetime. The painter favored the use of "Lapis Lazuli," sometimes known as "ultramarine," in particular.

This color is derived from rocks mined in modern-day Afghanistan. He utilized these expensive colors abundantly even after the "disaster year" or "rampjaar" of 1672, implying that he was provided by the collector who ordered his paintings.

He was having financial difficulties.

Vermeer struggled financially in his later years because the Dutch economy had suffered tremendously following France's invasion of the Netherlands in 1672. By the time he died, Vermeer was badly in debt; he died in Delft on December 16, 1675.


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