Vermeer and the Camera Obscura: Resources


  • DELSAUTE, Jean-Luc, "The Camera Obscura and the Painting in the Sixteenth andSeventeenth Centuries." in VermeerStudies edited by Ivan Gaskell and M. Jonker, New Haven, 1998.
    (An excellent study of the camera obscura's role in 16th- and17th-c. painting)
  • FINK, Daniel A., "Vermeer's Useof the Camera Obscura - A Comparative Study." The ArtBulletin 53, 1971.
  • GOWING, Lawrence, Vermeer, London, 1952.
    (Other than being one of the most powerful interpretations ofVermeer's art, Gowing also provides some insights into Vermeer's use of the camera obscura.)
  • HAMMOND, John H., The Camera Obscura: a Chronicle, Bristol, 1981.
  • HAMMOND, John H. and AUSTIN, Jill, The Camera Lucida in Art andScience, Bristol, 1987.
  • van HELDEN, Anne, "Camera Obscura."in TheScholarly World of Vermeer, Zwolle, 1996.
  • HOCKNEY, David, Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the LostTechniques of the Old
    , New York, 2001
  • HUERTA, Robert, The Natural Philosophers: The Parallel Search for Knowledge during the Age of Discovery, Bucknell University Press, 2003.
  • Inside the Camera Obscura – Optics and Art under the Spell of the Projected Image". ed. Wolfgang Lefèvre, 2007. <>
  • HYATT, A. Mayor, "The Photographic Eye." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, new seriesvol. 1, 1946.
  • JELLEY, Jane, "From Perception to Paint: the practical use of the Camera Obscura in the time of Vermeer", in Art and Perception, July 2013. Click here to download PD. (Jelley's experiment shows a method that would have made transfers from a projection to a canvas a practical possibility, using readily available materials and contemporary technology. This technique not only solves the problems of the reversals of camera obscura images, but significantly, the resultant transfers from the lens show striking resonance with Vermeer’s own underpainting, revealed by scientific analysis. This research also provides some answers about the use of particular materials in the 17th-century studio.)
  • KEMP, Martin, The Science of Art: Optical Themes inWestern Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat, New Haven, 1990.
  • MILLS, A. A.and JONES M. L., "Three lenses by Constantijn Huygens in the possession of the Royal Society of London," Annals of Science 46 (1989), pp. 173-182.
  • MILLS, A. A., "Vermeer and the camera obscura: some practicalconsiderations." Leonardo vol. 31, no. 3, 1998, pp.213-218.
  • LINDBERG, D. C., "The theory of pinhole images from antiquity to thethirteenth century." Archive for History of the ExactSciences 5, pp. 154-157, 1968-1969.
  • PENNELL, Joseph, "Photography as a hindrance and a help to art." British Journal of Photography, no. 1618, vol. XXXVIII,1891, pp. 294-296.
  • SCHWARTS, Heinrick, "Vermeer andthe Camera Obscura." Pantheon 24,1966.
  • STEADMAN, Phillip, Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces, 2001.
    (One of the most exhaustive investigations, and also the mostdisputed of Vermeer's use of the camera obscura. It is required reading foranyone interested not only in Vermeer's working methods, but in the artisthimself)
  • WADUM, Jørgen, "Vermeer in Perspective." in Johannes Vermeer edited by ArthurWheelock, New Haven, 1995, pp. 67-79.
  • WATERHOUSE, J., "Notes on the early history of thecamera obscura." The Photographic Journal, vol. XXXV,9, 31 May, 1901, pp. 270-290.
  • WHEELCOK, Arthur, "Perspective, Optics and DelftArtists Around 1650" (reprint of dissertation submitted to Harvard University1973), Garland, New York, 1977.


Vermeer & the Camera Obscura
Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, David Hockney
Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters
David Hockney
Expanded edition - October 5, 2006