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The School of Delft

(part four)

Painters of the School of Delft experimented freely with any painting technique that might help them create a more convincing sense of pictorial illusion. The strange distorted View of Delft by Fabritius was most likely attached to the back wall of a peep-box, a box internally painted on five sides which can only be observed from a hole in the sixth side. No peep-boxes made by Fabritius have survived but we know from documents that he had in fact constructed more than one. When the spectator observes the painted box through the hole he is surprised by an almost perfect illusion of reality. One of them has survived in very good condition and can be seen in the National Gallery of London. Vermeer himself used the camera obscura, a kind of forerunner of the modern photographic camera, to examine visual phenomena more objectively. Observing Vermeer's own View of Delft, the viewer is overwhelmed by its acute naturalness which makes him feel he is inside the painted landscape rather than in front of a painted image.


View of Delft, Johannes Vermeer
View of Delft

Carel Fabritius

View of Delft, Johannes Vermeer

View of Delft
Johannes Vermeer