The Wine Glass

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The Wine Glass, 66.3 x 76.5 cm, 1660. Gemaldegalerie, Berlin Jan Vermeer van Delft - The Glass of Wine - Google Art Project.jpg
The Wine Glass, 66.3 x 76.5 cm, 1660. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

The Wine Glass (also The Glass of Wine or Lady and Gentleman Drinking Wine, Dutch : Het glas wijn) is a 1660 painting by Johannes Vermeer now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. It portrays a seated woman and a standing man drinking in an interior setting. The work contains the conventions of genre painting of the Delft School developed by Pieter de Hooch in the late 1650s. It contains figures situated in a brightly lit and spacious interior, while its architectural space is highly defined. The figures are set in the middle ground, rather than positioned in the foreground. [1]

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

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, Berlin art museum in Berlin

The Gemäldegalerie is an art museum in Berlin, Germany, and the museum where the main selection of paintings belonging to the Berlin State Museums is displayed. It holds one of the world's leading collections of European paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Its collection includes masterpieces from such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Hans Holbein, Rogier van der Weyden, Jan van Eyck, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio, Giambattista Pittoni, Peter Paul Rubens, David Teniers the Younger, Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, and Antonio Viviani. It was first opened in 1830, and the current building was completed in 1998. It is located in the Kulturforum museum district west of Potsdamer Platz.

Contents

The painting

Pieter de Hooch, A Dutch Courtyard, circa 1657 Pieter de Hooch 012.jpg
Pieter de Hooch, A Dutch Courtyard, circa 1657

Vermeer was about 27 when he painted The Glass of Wine, and according to the critic Walter Liedtke, "No analysis of artistic conventions can suggest the sheer beauty and extraordinary refinement of a painting like The Glass of Wine, which may be considered one of Vermeer's first fully mature works". [2]

The concept of figures drinking around a table, and the portrayal of a woman drinking from a glass are taken directly from De Hooch's A Dutch Courtyard . However, Vermeer's work breaks away from the prototypes of De Hooch in that the interior is rendered in a far more elegant and higher-class setting than the older master's works. The clothes of the figures, the patterned tablecloth, the gilded picture frame hanging on the back wall, and the coat of arms in the stained window glass all suggest a wealthier setting. [1]

<i>A Dutch Courtyard</i> painting by Pieter de Hooch

A Dutch Courtyard (1658–1660) is an oil on canvas painting by the Dutch painter Pieter de Hooch, it is an example of Dutch Golden Age painting and is part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art.

Johannes Vermeer, The Girl with the Wine Glass (1659-1660) Jan Vermeer van Delft 006.jpg
Johannes Vermeer, The Girl with the Wine Glass (1659–1660)

The scene likely represents some type of courtship, but the roles being played by the two figures are not clear. [3] [4] The woman has just drained the glass of wine and the man seems impatient to pour her more, almost as if he is trying to get her drunk. A musical instrument, the cittern, lies on the chair with musical notebooks. [3] But the figure of Temperance is depicted in the stained glass window, adding to the tension in the scene. [4]

Cittern stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance

The cittern or cithren is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance. Modern scholars debate its exact history, but it is generally accepted that it is descended from the Medieval citole. It looks much like the modern-day flat-back mandolin and the modern Irish bouzouki, and is descended from the English Guitar. Its flat-back design was simpler and cheaper to construct than the lute. It was also easier to play, smaller, less delicate and more portable. Played by all classes, the cittern was a premier instrument of casual music-making much as is the guitar today.

Compared to his earlier paintings, Vermeer's brushwork in The Wine Glass is subdued, while the faces and clothes of the figures are depicted with wide smooth outlines. Only in the tapestry of the tablecloth and the window glass did the artist apply finely detailed, linear brush strokes. At the time Vermeer was not the only Dutch artist attempting to develop the ideas of De Hooch; contemporary paintings from Jan Steen, Gerard Ter Borch, and Frans van Mieris the Elder also display a refined technique.

Jan Steen painter from the Northern Netherlands

Jan Havickszoon Steen was a Dutch genre painter of the 17th century. His works are known for their psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour.

Frans van Mieris the Elder Dutch painter

Frans van Mieris, the elder, was a Dutch Golden Age genre and portrait painter. The leading member of a Leiden family of painters, his sons Jan (1660–1690) and Willem (1662–1747) and his grandson Frans van Mieris the Younger (1689–1763) were also accomplished genre painters.

The painting shares elements with other Vermeer works. The Girl with the Wine Glass (1659–1660) portrays two men, but in common with The Wine Glass it has a woman seated at a table with a glass of wine, and the tiled floors and stained-glass windows in both are very similar. [5] The same wine pitcher appears in an earlier Vermeer, A Girl Asleep (1657).

The Wine Glass is a transitional work, and as such, is not commonly viewed as one of Vermeer's finest. According to art critic Lawrence Gowing, comparing the work with Gabriel Metsu's The Duet, it "lacks the sociable fluency, the ingratiating inventiveness". [6]

Notes

  1. 1 2 Wheelock, 68
  2. Liedtke, 376-378
  3. 1 2 "The Glass of Wine". essential vermeer.com. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Vermeer's The Glass of Wine". Smarthistory at Khan Academy . Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  5. Konowitz, Ellen; Hertel, Christiane (Autumn 1998). "Vermeer: Reception and Interpretation. (Book Review)". Sixteenth Century Journal. 29 (3): 817–819. doi:10.2307/2543706. JSTOR   2543706.
  6. Quoted in "The Glass of Wine". essentialvermeer.com. Archived from the original on 4 November 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2007.

Bibliography

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