Details of Vermeer's Painting Technique

The Lacemaker, Johannes Vermeer
The Lacemaker
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1669-1671
Oil on canvas on panel, 24.5 x 21 cm.
Musée du Louvre, Paris


Another example of the Vermeer’s supreme control of the medium that might easily escape attention can be found in a stamp-sized detail that represents two taughtt threads at the center of the Lacemaker.

Other than possessing a steady hand and perfect vision, to render this passage, the painter must determine the appropriate viscosity of his paint in order to obtain a constant, yet controlled flow from the near invisible point of his fine-tipped brush.  Moreover, careful inspection reveals that the tone of the right-hand thread is slightly lighter than that of the left-hand thread, which instead, is slightly blurred as well. The subtle differentiation in focus and tone makes the right-hand thread appear softly illuminated while the left-hand thread appears to be set slightly deeper in space than the other, encompassed in an envelope of luminous shadow cast by the lacemaker’s hand.

TheLacemaker (detail), Johannes Vermeer
Looking Over Vermeer's Shoulder
The complete book on the technique and studio practices of Johannes Vermeer
2nd edition
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+300 color illus.
Jan. 2016

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