The Lacemaker (Vermeer)

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The Lacemaker
Johannes Vermeer - The lacemaker (c.1669-1671).jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year c. 1669–70
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 24.5 cm× 21 cm(9.6 in× 8.3 in)
Location Louvre, Paris

The Lacemaker is a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675), completed around 1669–1670 and held in the Louvre, Paris. The work shows a young woman dressed in a yellow shawl, holding up a pair of bobbins in her left hand as she carefully places a pin in the pillow on which she is making her bobbin lace. At 24.5 cm x 21 cm (9.6 in x 8.3 in), the work is the smallest of Vermeer's paintings, [1] but in many ways one of his most abstract and unusual. [2] The canvas used was cut from the same bolt as that used for A Young Woman Seated at the Virginals , and both paintings seem to have had identical dimensions originally. [3] [4]

Dutch Golden Age painting

Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history roughly spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence.

Johannes Vermeer 17th-century Dutch painter

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. He was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime but evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.

Louvre Art museum and Historic site in Paris, France

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement. Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres. In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum, receiving 10.2 million visitors.

Contents

The girl is set against a blank wall, probably because the artist sought to eliminate any external distractions from the central image. As with his The Astronomer (1668) and The Geographer (1669), that the artist likely undertook careful study before he executed the work; the art of lacemaking is portrayed closely and accurately. [5] Vermeer probably used a camera obscura while composing the work: many optical effects typical of photography can be seen, in particular the blurring of the foreground. [1] By rendering areas of the canvas as out-of-focus, Vermeer is able to suggest depth of field in a manner unusual of Dutch Baroque painting of the era. [6]

<i>The Geographer</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

The Geographer is a painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in 1668–1669, and is now in the collection of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut museum in Frankfurt, Germany. It is closely related to Vermeer's The Astronomer, for instance using the same model in the same dress, and has sometimes been considered a pendant painting to it. A 2017 study indicated that the canvas for the two works came from the same bolt of material.

Camera obscura optical device that projects an image of its surroundings on a screen

Camera obscura, also referred to as pinhole image, is the natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen is projected through a small hole in that screen as a reversed and inverted image on a surface opposite to the opening. The surroundings of the projected image have to be relatively dark for the image to be clear, so many historical camera obscura experiments were performed in dark rooms.

Depth of field Distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that are in focus in an image

Depth of field is the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that are in acceptably sharp focus in an image. The depth of field is determined by focal length, distance to subject, the acceptable circle of confusion size, and aperture. A particular depth of field may be chosen for technical or artistic purposes. Some post-processing methods, such as focus stacking allow extended depth of field that would be impossible with traditional techniques.

In The Lacemaker, the artist presents in an abstract manner the various elements which compose the girl's face and body and the pattern of the material on which she is working. The girl's hands, the curls of her hair and the T-cross which form her eyes and nose are all described in an abstract manner unusual for the era in which Vermeer worked. In addition, the red and white of the lace is shown as spilling from the sewing cushion with physical properties suggesting a near liquid form. [2] The blurring of these threads contrasts sharply with the precision of the lace she is shown working on. [1]

The Lace Maker (1662) by Caspar Netscher. Although this work shares with Vermeer a sense of quiet solitude, it hints at sexual overtones unvisited by the later artist "The Lace-Maker" by Caspar Netscher.jpg
The Lace Maker (1662) by Caspar Netscher. Although this work shares with Vermeer a sense of quiet solitude, it hints at sexual overtones unvisited by the later artist

Vermeer's painting is often compared to a 1662 canvas of the same name (but two words) by the Dutch portrait and genre painter Caspar Netscher. However, Vermeer's work is very different in tone. In the earlier work, both the girl's shoes and the mussel shells near her feet have sexual connotations. [1] In addition, the discarded shoes in Netscher's painting are unlikely to be the girl's own, hinting again at a sexual overtone. [7]

Caspar Netscher Dutch painter

CasparNetscher was a Dutch portrait and genre painter. He was a master in depicting oriental rugs, silk and brocade and introduced an international style to the Northern Netherlands.

According to the art historian Lawrence Gowing,

"The achievement of Vermeer's maturity is complete. It is not open to extension: no universal style is discovered. We have never the sense of abundance that the characteristic jewels of his century gives us, the sense that the precious vein lies open, ready to be worked. There is only one 'Lacemaker': we cannot imagine another. It is a complete and single definition." [8]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Bonafoux, 66
  2. 1 2 Huerta (2005), 38
  3. Liedtke, Walter; Johnson, C. Richard, Jr.; Johnson, Don H. "Canvas matches in Vermeer: a case study in the computer analysis of canvas supports" (PDF). Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  4. Sheldon, Libby & Costaras, Nicolas (2006). "Johannes Vermeer's Young Woman Seated at a Virginal". Burlington Magazine. 148: 89–97.
  5. Wheelock, 114
  6. Huerta (2003), 46
  7. Nash, John. Vermeer. Scala, 1991. ISBN   1-870248-63-5. See extract: "".
  8. Gowing, 55

Sources

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Further reading

Walter Arthur Liedtke, Jr. was an American art historian, writer and Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was known as one of the world's leading scholars of Dutch and Flemish paintings. He died in the 2015 Metro-North Valhalla train crash.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Art museum in New York City, New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the United States. With 7.06 million visitors to its three locations in 2016, it was the third most visited art museum in the world, and the fifth most visited museum of any kind. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments. The main building, on the eastern edge of Central Park along Museum Mile in Manhattan 's Upper East Side is by area one of the world's largest art galleries. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artifacts from Medieval Europe. On March 18, 2016, the museum opened the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; it extends the museum's modern and contemporary art program.

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