The Little Street

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The Little Street
Johannes Vermeer - Gezicht op huizen in Delft, bekend als 'Het straatje' - Google Art Project.jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year1657–1658
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions54.3 cm× 44 cm(21.4 in× 17 in)
Location Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Little Street (Het Straatje) is a painting by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, executed c. 1657–58. It is exhibited at the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, and signed, below the window in the lower left-hand corner, "I V MEER". [1] [2]

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Including three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

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.

Rijksmuseum National museum, Art museum, History museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.

Contents

Painting

The painting is made in oil on canvas, and it is a relatively small painting, being 54.3 centimetres (21.4 in) high by 44.0 centimetres (17.3 in) wide. [2]

The painting, showing a quiet street, depicts a typical aspect of the life in a Dutch Golden Age town. It is one of only three Vermeer paintings of views of Delft, the others being View of Delft and the now lost House Standing in Delft. [3] This painting is considered to be an important work of the Dutch master. [4]

Dutch Golden Age history of the Netherlands 1575 to 1675

The Dutch Golden Age was a period in the history of the Netherlands, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first section is characterized by the Eighty Years' War, which ended in 1648. The Golden Age continued in peacetime during the Dutch Republic until the end of the century.

<i>View of Delft</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

View of Delft is an oil painting by Johannes Vermeer, painted ca. 1660–1661. The painting of the Dutch artist's hometown is among his most popular, painted at a time when cityscapes were uncommon. It is one of three known paintings of Delft by Vermeer, along with The Little Street and the lost painting House Standing in Delft. The use of pointillism in the work suggests that it postdates The Little Street, and the absence of bells in the tower of the New Church dates it to 1660–1661. Vermeer's View of Delft has been held in the Dutch Royal Cabinet of Paintings at the Mauritshuis in The Hague since its establishment in 1822.

Straight angles alternate with the triangle of the house and of the sky giving the composition a certain vitality. The walls, stones and brickwork are painted in a thicker paint layer, such that it makes them almost palpable.

Painting materials

Vermeer achieved the realistic depiction of the surfaces with the masterful application of a relatively limited number of pigments. [5] He employed red ochre and madder lake for the reddish-brown brick wall, the blue in the sky contains lead white and natural ultramarine. The green shutters and foliage are painted with azurite mixed with lead-tin-yellow. [6]

Ochre painting material and color

Ochre or ocher is a natural clay earth pigment which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. It ranges in colour from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colours produced by this pigment, especially a light brownish-yellow. A variant of ochre containing a large amount of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide, has a reddish tint known as "red ochre".

Ultramarine A deep blue color pigment which was originally made with ground lapis lazuli

Ultramarine is a deep blue color pigment which was originally made by grinding lapis lazuli into a powder. The name comes from the Latin ultramarinus, literally "beyond the sea", because the pigment was imported into Europe from mines in Afghanistan by Italian traders during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Azurite carbonate mineral

Azurite is a soft, deep blue copper mineral produced by weathering of copper ore deposits. In the early 19th century, it was also known as chessylite after the type locality at Chessy-les-Mines near Lyon, France. The mineral, a carbonate with the chemical formula Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2, has been known since ancient times, and was mentioned in Pliny the Elder's Natural History under the Greek name kuanos (κυανός: "deep blue," root of English cyan) and the Latin name caeruleum. The blue of azurite is exceptionally deep and clear, and for that reason the mineral has tended to be associated since antiquity with the deep blue color of low-humidity desert and winter skies. The modern English name of the mineral reflects this association, since both azurite and azure are derived via Arabic from the Persian lazhward (لاژورد), an area known for its deposits of another deep blue stone, lapis lazuli ("stone of azure").

Location

Voldersgracht, where the artist grew up in Delft Delft Voldersgracht.jpg
Voldersgracht, where the artist grew up in Delft
Present day Vlamingstraat in Delft Vlamingstraat 40 - Delft - 2017.jpg
Present day Vlamingstraat in Delft

While generally agreed to depict a contemporary street scene in 17th-century Delft, where Vermeer lived and worked, the exact location of the scene Vermeer painted has long been a topic of research and discussion, with studies arguing for the Voldersgracht, where the Vermeer Centre is located, or the Nieuwe Langendijk at the present-day numbers 22 to 26. [7]

Delft City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.

Vermeer Centre Dutch information center

The Vermeer Centre is an information center dedicated to the painter Johannes Vermeer and the work of his contemporaries in Delft, the Netherlands.

In 2015, archival research based on the city's quay dues register, which gives detailed measurements of all houses and passageways along the canals of Delft at the time, has resulted in the conclusion that the site is the Vlamingstraat, a street with a narrow canal, at the present-day numbers 40 and 42. [8] The research also found that the property on the right in the painting belonged to Vermeer’s aunt, Ariaentgen Claes van der Minne. She had a business selling tripe, and the passageway beside the house was known as the Penspoort, or Tripe Gate. Vermeer’s mother and sister also lived on the same canal, diagonally opposite. [8] [9]

In 2017, this apparently sound conclusion was disputed by art historians Gert Eijkelboom and Gerrit Vermeer in the Dutch Journal of Historical Geography (Tijdschrift voor historische geografie). Their argumentation is essentially founded in the assertion that the painting does not depict an actual place, and thus cannot be accurately located. The authors said: "We do not know whether the question will ever be answered, because it seems that Vermeer's world-famous work is an allegorical representation, which he compiled from various elements and places." [10]

See also

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References

  1. "The Little Street by VERMEER". Web Gallery of Art. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  2. 1 2 "The Little Street". Rijksmuseum. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  3. Montias, John Michael (1989). Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History. Princeton University Press. p. 200. ISBN   978-0-691-00289-7.
  4. "collections". Rijksmuseum.
  5. Kuhn, H., A Study of the Pigments and the Grounds used by Jan Vermeer, Reports and Studies in the History of Art, National Gallery of Art (Washington, 1968)
  6. Vermeer, A Little Street, ColourLex
  7. Kees Kaldenbach (2000). "Het Straatje van Johannes Vermeer: Nieuwe Langendijk 22-26? Een kunsthistorische visie op een archeologisch en bouwhistorisch onderzoeks". Bulletin KNOB. 99 (6). doi:10.7480/knob.99.2000.6.389.
  8. 1 2 Rijksmuseum. "Vermeer's The Little Street discovered". www.rijksmuseum.nl. Rijksmuseum. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  9. Grijzenhout, Frans (2015). Vermeer's The Little Street. A View of the Penspoort in Delft. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum. ISBN   9789491714702.
  10. "Kunsthistorici: Vlamingstraat is niet het 'Straatje van Vermeer'". Delftse Post. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2018.

Further reading