maandag 21 februari 2011

Diana and her Companions (1654 - 1658)

The Hague, Mauritshuis / www.mauritshuis.nl


Probably the earliest surviving painting by Johannes Vermeer. It is very little like the characteristic style he would develop, being much influenced by the Italianate school of the likes of Caravaggio, and it is the only one of his based on mythology.

The signature was destroyed by several bouts of cleaning in the nineteenth century, but in 1895 it was recorded as reading J R VMeer. This is not conclusive, since there were numerous artists of very similar name around at the time. What makes the difference however is the nymph bathing Diana's feet. Her face is rather like that of the maid in an unquestionable Vermeer, Maid Asleep, but as they're at quite different angles, it's actually the bronze-coloured satin garment she's wearing in both pictures that nails it.

It's a landscape of sorts. At least, it's outdoors. The goddess Diana is in the centre in a gold dress, facing right, there's a nymph squatting to wash her feet, and there are three other companions nearby. And a dog. Apparently this is the only animal in Vermeer's works. It's a typical pastoral scene of the era, without much merit. There's nothing original about the composition, and there's nothing very Vermeerian about the lighting, or the expressions on their faces, the two things that are so striking about his later paintings.

More information on Vermeers paintings

Sources:
www.wikipedia.com
www.everything2.com / diana T.

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