woensdag 18 mei 2011

Vermeer painting View of Delft (1658)

Vermeer painting View of DelftThe Hague, Mauritshuis / www.mauritshuis.nl

View of Delft is one of the most famous paintings by Vermeer. Topographic views of cities had become a tradition by the time Vermeer painted this famous canvas.

Vermeer executed his View of Delft on the spot, but the optical instrument pointed toward the city and providing the artist with the aspect translated onto canvas, was not the camera obscura but the inverted telescope. It is only the latter that condenses the panoramic view of a given sector, diminishes the figures of the foreground to a smaller than normal magnification, emphasizes the foreground as we see it in the picture, and makes the remainder of the composition recede into space.

The image thus obtained provides us with optical effects that convey a cityscape that is united in the composition and enveloped atmospherically into glowing light. We admire the town, but it is not a profile view of a township, but an idealized representation of Delft, with its main characteristics simplified and then cast into the framework of a harbour mirroring selected reflections in the water, and a rich, full sky with magnificent cloud formations. The artist outdid himself in a rendition of his hometown, which stands as a truly great interpretation of nature.

In recent art history literature it has been assumed that King William I of Orange (who reigned 1813-1840) appreciated the painting and decided to buy it because "knew that one day he too, would be interred in the crypt under his ancestor's monument". The story of the purchase of the View of Delft is more complicated than that. The King did not actually choose the painting himself, it was chosen by the director of the Rijksmuseum. The histories of the Royal Collection of paintings Mauritshuis and the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam are quite intertwined during the reign of William I. In 1822 there was a batch of paintings to be distributed between the Rijksmusem and the Mauritshuis and the director of the Rijksmuseum actually preferred another painting at that time.

Be that as it may - William I would have indeed appreciated the Johannes Vermeer painting as it highlights the tower of the New Church, which houses the marble grave monument of his predecessor Willem of Orange (who reigned in the 16th C.).

More information paintings Vermeer


Sources:
www.xs4all.nl/~kalden
www.wga.hu

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