Impressions of Delft
In the second half of the seventeenth century (about the time Vermeer's career was beginning), the ports Amsterdam and Rotterdam had taken over more and more of the nation's trade. Consequentially Delft slowed down. The number of breweries in the city shrank from more than 100 to 15. Its famous pottery industry continued to flourish, but other businesses languished. It became the home of retired people and a stronghold of conservative Calvinism. Gradually the once-vigorous city went into a decline that left it virtually dormant until the 19th century.
The one lucky result of this misfortune is that the heart of Delft today looks very much as it did in Vermeer's day, since, by the time the town came to light again, men had learned to value and preserve the architectural heritage of the past. Thus Delft still has a few acres of houses, churches, canals and squares which lead us straight into Vermeer's world. In fact, a plan of Delft, published in 1648 by the map maker Willem Blaeu, so detailed that it shows Vermeer's house, is accurate enough to be used for a walk today.
The following images are intended to give some idea of the beauty of Vermeer's hometown. Many were taken by the author of this site but many are contributions from friends both in Delft and the rest of the world. ("AR" - Adelheid Rech, "PH" - Pieter Haringsma)
Click on the thumbnails to access large-scale images.