The Procuress (Vermeer)

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The Procuress
Johannes Vermeer - The Procuress - Google Art Project.jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year1656
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions143 cm× 130 cm(56 in× 51 in)
Location Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

The Procuress is a 1656 oil-on-canvas painting by the 24-year-old Johannes Vermeer. It can be seen in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. It is his first genre painting and shows a scene of contemporary life, an image of mercenary love [1] perhaps in a brothel. It differs from his earlier biblical and mythological scenes. It is one of only three paintings Vermeer signed and dated (the other two are The Astronomer and The Geographer ).

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.

Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister art gallery in Dresden, Germany

The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, Germany, displays around 750 paintings from the 15th to the 18th centuries. It includes major Italian Renaissance works as well as Dutch and Flemish paintings. Outstanding works by German, French and Spanish painters of the period are also among the gallery's attractions.

Dresden Place in Saxony, Germany

Dresden is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic.

Contents

It seems Vermeer was influenced by earlier works on the same subject by Gerard ter Borch, and The Procuress (c. 1622) by Dirck van Baburen, which was owned by Vermeer's mother-in-law Maria Thins and hung in her home. [2]

Gerard ter Borch painter from the Northern Netherlands

This article is for Gerard ter Borch the Younger, for the other artist of the same name see Gerard ter Borch the Elder

<i>The Procuress</i> (Dirck van Baburen) number of similar paintings by the Dutch Golden Age painter Dirck van Baburen

The Procuress is the name given to a number of similar paintings by the Dutch Golden Age painter Dirck van Baburen. The painting is in the Caravaggiesque style of the Utrecht school.

Dirck van Baburen Dutch painter

Dirck Jaspersz. van Baburen was a Dutch painter and one of the Utrecht Caravaggisti.

The scene

The woman in black, the leering coupler, "in a nun's costume", [3] could be the eponymous procuress, while the man to her right, "wearing a black beret and a doublet with slashed sleeves", [4] has been identified as a self portrait of the artist. [5] There is a resemblance with the painter in Vermeer's The Art of Painting .

Procuring (prostitution) facilitation or provision of prostitute

Procuring or pandering is the facilitation or provision of a prostitute or sex worker in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer. A procurer, colloquially called a pimp or a madam, is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. The procurer may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing, and possibly monopolizing, a location where the prostitute may engage clients. Like prostitution, the legality of certain actions of a madam or a pimp vary from one region to the next.

Doublet (clothing) close-fitting waist-length or hip-length garment with or without sleeves worn by men from the 15th to the 17th century

A doublet is a man's snug-fitting jacket that is shaped and fitted to the man's body which was worn in Spain and was spread to Western Europe from the late Middle Ages up to the mid-17th century. The doublet was hip length or waist length and worn over the shirt or drawers. Until the end of the 15th century, the doublet was usually worn under another layer of clothing such as a gown, mantle, overtunic or jerkin when in public.

<i>The Art of Painting</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The Art of Painting, also known as The Allegory of Painting, or Painter in his Studio, is a 17th-century oil on canvas painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It is owned by the Austrian Republic and is on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

The man, a soldier, in the red jacket is fondling the young woman's breast and dropping a coin into her outstretched hand. [6] According to Benjamin Binstock the painting could be understood as a psychological portrait of his adopted family. [7] Vermeer is in the painting as a musician, in the employ of the madam. In his rather fictional book Binstock explains Vermeer used his family as models; the whore could be Vermeer's wife Catherina [8] and the lewd soldier her brother Willem. [9]

The three-dimensional jug on the oriental rug is a piece of Westerwald Pottery. The kelim thrown over a bannister, probably produced in Uşak, covers a third of the painting and showes medaillons and leaves. [10] The instrument is probably a cittern. The dark coat with five buttons was added by Vermeer in a later stage.

Oriental rug Type of textile

An oriental rug is a heavy textile made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purposes and produced in “Oriental countries” for home use, local sale, and export.

Westerwald Pottery

Westerwald Pottery or Stoneware is a distinctive type of salt glazed grey pottery from the Höhr-Grenzhausen and Ransbach-Baumbach area of Westerwaldkreis in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.

Uşak Metropolitan municipality in Turkey

Uşak is a city in the interior part of the Aegean Region of Turkey. The city has a population of 500,000 and is the capital of Uşak Province. The city was previously known by its Greek name of Ousakeion/Ουσάκειον.

In 1696 the painting, being sold on an auction in Amsterdam, was named "A merry company in a room". According to Binstock this "dark and gloomy" painting does not represent a didactic message. [11]

Reception

Dirck van Baburen, The Procuress , 1622, oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The painting was owned by Maria Thins, mother-in-law of Johannes Vermeer, who reproduced it within two of his own paintings. The Procuress.jpg
Dirck van Baburen, The Procuress , 1622, oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The painting was owned by Maria Thins, mother-in-law of Johannes Vermeer, who reproduced it within two of his own paintings.

Some critics thought the painting is atypical of Vermeer's style and expression, because it lacks the typical light.

Pieter Swillens wrote in 1950 thatif the work was by Vermeer at allit showed the artist "seeking and groping" to find a suitable mode of expression. Eduard Trautscholdt wrote 10 years before that "The temperament of the 24-year-old Vermeer fully emerges for the first time" [13]

Provenance and Exhibitions

The painting was in the Waldstein collection in Dux (now Duchcov), then bought in 1741 for August III of Poland, the Elector of Saxony. [13]

The painting was exhibited in 1980 at the Restaurierte Kunstwerke in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republic exhibit in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Altes Museum. [13]

This painting should not be confused with another painting by the same name, by Dirck van Baburen, nor with a fake version once attributed to Vermeer. Technical analysis in 2011 has shown that there is Bakelite in the paint, definitely showing that the painting is a modern forgery. It was most probably executed by the notorious forger, Han van Meegeren, who was responsible for producing several fake Vermeers.

Painting materials

The technical investigation of this painting was done in 1968 by Hermann Kühn. [14] The pigment analysis revealed Vermeer's use of his usual pigments such as ultramarine in the blue wine jug and lead-tin-yellow in the jacket of the woman. He employed also smalt in the green parts of the tablecloth and in the greenish background which is less usual for him. [15]

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References

  1. The Practice of Cultural Analysis: Exposing Interdisciplinary Interpretation, p. 50. Mieke Bal , Bryan Gonzales
  2. John Michael Montias, Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History, Princeton University Press, 1991, p.146.
  3. Binstock, p. 224.
  4. Binstock, p. 172.
  5. "The Procuress: Evidence for a Vermeer Self-Portrait" Retrieved September 13, 2010
  6. W. Liedtke (2007) Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 873.
  7. B. Binstock (2009) "Vermeer's Family Secrets. Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice", p. 81.
  8. Binstock, p. 231
  9. Binstock, p. 81-82.
  10. Onno Ydema (1991) Carpets and their Datings in Netherlandish Paintings, 1540 - 1700, p. 43, 44, 145. ISBN   90-6011-710-7
  11. Binstock, p. 123, 85.
  12. In the catalogue of Essentian Vermeer (click on the woman in black)
  13. 1 2 3 Liedtke, Walter; Michiel C. Plomp and Axel Ruger (2001) Vermeer and the Delft School. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. 372, 374. ISBN   0-87099-973-7.
  14. Kuhn, H. A Study of the Pigments and Grounds Used by Jan Vermeer. Reports and Studies in the History of Art, 1968, 154–202
  15. Johannes Vermeer, 'The Procuress', Colourlex

Further reading