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Artistry & Interpretation

The enigmatic nature Vermeer's artistry has inspired a vast number of interpretations. Any selection is therefore arduous and incomplete.

Vermeer: The Complete Paintings by Walter Liedtke provides the most u overview of Vermeer's oeuvre. Liedtke’s exploration yields subtleties of meaning and refinements of technique and style in each of Vermeer’s canvases. Alongside the most historical approach to Vermeer to date, the annotated color catalogue reveals a master whose rare sensibility may be described but not explained.

One of the most thought-provoking interpretations of Vermeer's artistry is Vermeer (1952) by Lawrence Gowing. Gowing, himself a talented painter, brought to light some of the most fundamental underlying themes and stylistic mechanisms in Vermeer's painting which had, until then, remained undiscovered. It is almost impossible to evaluate Vermeer's work taking into consideration Gowing's penetrating insights in one way or another.

Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. (Vermeer and the Art of Painting, 1995), who is one of the most prolific writers on Vermeer, offers numerous insights linking painting techniques and artistry. The catalogue of the Washington/The Hague Vermeer exhibition (Johannes Vermeer, 1998) also provides a wealth of valuable information. Wheelock's well-balanced interpretations are widely accepted.

Edward Snow (A Study of Vermeer,1994), who acknowledges the importance of Gowing's writings, takes a unique approach by utilizing many notions belonging to the field of psychology for his analysis. First published in 1979, Snow’s study starts from a single premise: that we respond so intensely to Vermeer because his paintings reach so deeply into our lives. Our desire for images, the distances that separate us, the validations we seek from the still world, the traces of ghostliness in our own human presence; these, the book proposes, are Vermeer's themes, which he pursues with a realism always in touch with the uncanny. As Snow traces the many counterpoised sensations that make up Vermeer's equanimity, he leads us into a world of nuances and surprise. A Study of Vermeer is passionate and visual in its commitments. His discussions of Vermeer's paintings are conducted in a language of patient observation, and they involve the reader in an experience of deepening relationship and ongoing visual discovery. Extremely enlightening.

Ivan Gaskell's essay, "Vermeer and the Limits of Interpretation," (Vermeer Studies, 1998) considers various forms of interpretation possible in Vermeer's painting. After defining three manners of interpretation, Gaskell illustrates his own, taking Woman Standing at a Spinet as a springboard. Vermeer's Wager (Essays in Art and Culture) (2000) by the same author, also provides many interesting considerations dealing with both Vermeer's painting and the context in which we understand a work of art.

Vermeer and the Invention of Seeing (2001) by Bryan Jay Wolf, is written in the same tradition as Edward Snow's classic. The book begins with a basic premise: not only are Vermeer's paintings beautiful; they are also very strange. Wolf attempts to place Vermeer in the context of his culture in order to explain that strangeness. The result makes for sometimes difficult reading, yet ultimately rewards the reader with provocative insights.

other important sources:

Thèophile Thorè, "Van der Meer de Delft," in Gazette des Beaux-Arts 21,1886

Nanette Salomon, "Vermeer and the Balance of Destiny," in Essays in Northern European Art Presented to Egbert Havenkamp- Begemann on His Sixtieth Birthday, ed. A. M. Logan, et al., pp 216.221, 1983

Martin Pops, Vermeer and the Chamber of Being, 1984

Daniel Arasse, Vermeer ( T. Grabar), Princeton, 1993, Vermeer, Faith in Painting ( T. Grabar), Princeton, 1993

Harry Peeters, "Vermeer and his Work. A View," in Dutch Society in the Age of Vermeer, Zwolle, 1996

Artistic Development

Most existing monographs on Vermeer discuss at least briefly Vermeer's scarcely documented artistic development. One of the most penetrating is Vermeer (1952 and 1970) by Lawrence Gowing. Other very interesting insights can be found in "Genre Painting in Delft after 1650: De Hoogh and Vermeer" in Vermeer and the Delft School, (2001) by Walter Liedtke.

other sources:

J.M. Nash, "To finde the Mindes construction in the Face", in Johannes Vermeer,1998

Leonard J. Slatkes, "Utrecht and Delft: Vermeer and Caravaggism," in Johannes Vermeer,1998

Albert Blankert, "Vermeer's Modern Themes and Their Traditions" in Johannes Vermeer, 1998

Walter Liedtke, "Vermeer Teaching Himself,"in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art) 1998

Danile Arasse, Vermeer,Princeton,1998


Although many scholars have studied Vermeer's life, the most comprehensive work by far is Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History (1989) by John Montias. Montias has examined every surviving historical document regarding Vermeer and his milieu and has formed a meticulously constructed picture of the artist's personal life and his dealings with the artistic environment of Delft. This book has superseded all other studies on the artist's life and is now considered the foundation on which all further research on the artist's life is based.

Anthony Bailey, in excellent prose, sums up much of what had been hitherto discovered in a very readable "biography" of Vermeer. See his, Vermeer: A View of Delft, (2001).

A brief but pertinent essay by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. in Johannes Vermeer (1996) can also be read with profit.

other sources:
Wayne Franits, in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art), 2001

Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., Vermeer; The Complete Works, 1997

Walter Liedtke, "Genre Painting in Delft after 1650: De Hoogh and Vermeer," in Vermeer and the Delft School, edited by Walter Liedtke, 2001

Camera Obscura

Photographer Joseph Pennell in 1891 was the first to suppose that Vermeer might have employed the aid of an optical device for his painting. Charles Seymour ("Dark Chamber in a Light Filled Room," Art Bulletin 46, 1964) put to the test the hypothesis that Vermeer had used the camera obscura by observing through a real 19th-century camera objects in lighting conditions similar to the ones found in Vermeer's paintings. The quality of the camera’s images were very similar to some found in of the artist's works.

By far the most exhaustive investigation regarding Vermeer and the camera obscura, and also the most disputed, is Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces (2001) by Phillip Steadman. It is required reading for anyone interested not only in Vermeer's working methods, but in the artist himself. Steadman's Vermeer's Camera is an excellent web site with fascinating material by the same author.

Jean-Luc Delsau's essay "The Camera Obscura and the Painting in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries" (Vermeer Studies,1998), takes an in-depth look at the history of the camera's use in painting.

The Magic Mirror of Life: A Search for Camera Obscura Room is an excellent web site that deals with both the camera obscura room, which Vermeer may have been familiar with, and the mobile type that Vermeer most likely used.

other sources:

A. Mayor Hyatt, "The Photographic Eye," Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, new series, vol. 1, 1946

Heinrick Schwarts, "Vermeer and the Camera Obscura," in Pantheon 24, 1966

Daniel A. Fink, "Vermeer's Use of the Camera Obscura: A Comparative Study, "in The Art Bulletin 53, 1971

for a complete camera obscura bibliography, click here.


Vermeer's compositions have probably not been studied sufficiently. An overall comparative analysis would make a major contribution towards the understanding of one of the artist’s fundamental vehicles of expression.

Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., noted Vermeer expert, has investigated the intricacies of Vermeer's compositions in both Vermeer and the Art of Painting (1995) and the catalogue entries of the Washington/The Hague Vermeer exhibition, Johannes Vermeer (1998).

other sources:

An interesting web site, Vermeer: Master Composer, examines three Vermeer masterpieces revealing surprising compositional similarities.

The National Gallery of Art web site examines Woman Holding a Balance and its composition significance.

Gowing (Vermeer, 1952 and 1970), Snow (A Study of Vermeer 1994) and Wheelock (Vermeer and the Art of Painting, 1994) offer many interesting considerations about Vermeer's composition.


A brief technical analysis of each painting exhibited in the monumental Vermeer exhibition Washington/The Hague, 1995–1996 can be found in the catalogue, Johannes Vermeer, (1995).

Vermeer Illuminated: Conservation, Restoration and Research, edited by Jørgen Wadum, provides an in-depth look at the restoration of two Vermeer's in the Mauritshuis, View of Delft and Girl with a Pearl Earring

Two new studies of The Art of Painting in the exhibition catalgue, Vermeer: Die Malkunst:

Elke Oberthaler, Sabine Stanek, Jaap J. Boon, Martha Griesser, "The Art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer. History of Treatments and Observations on the Present Condition" and

Jaap J. Boon, Elke Oberthaler, "Mechanical Weakness and Chemical Reactivity Observed in the Paint Structure and Surface of The Art of Painting by Vermeer."

Excellent technical reports of the four Vermeers in The National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C. can be consulted directly on-line by clicking on the painting's title below.

Woman Holding a Balance

A Lady Writing

Girl with a Red Hat

Girl with a Flute


Although few actual garments survive from Vermeer's time, Marieke de Winkel's essay "The Interpretation of Dress in Vermeer's Painting," (Vermeer Studies, 1998), analyzes their significance with the aid of accurately costumed dolls from seventeenth-century dollhouses.

Delft Blue Faience

Delft workshops have become widely known thorough the world for the unique style and quality of their porcelain. During Vermeer's lifetime, Delft workshops produced only the baseboard tiles which protected the whitewashed walls against daily mopping. These tiles can be seen in many of Vermeer's paintings. Dr. Kees Kaldenbach's web site is certainly one of the most interesting to be found. He provides a number of interesting documents as well as a map of all the faience workshops in Delft.

other sources:

Van Aken-Fehmers, "Porceleijn-backers vande Delsche porceleijn," in Van Aken-Fehmers et al., 1999

False Attributions & Fakes

Ben Broos' essay "Vermeer: Malice and Misconception" (Vermeer Studies, 1998) outlines the problems of erroneous attributions and fakes since Vermeer's rediscovery in the 1850s. He also casts serious doubts on the most recent attribution of the Saint Praxedis by one of the foremost Vermeer scholars, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

The fascinating post-World War II forgery case had international repercussions on both Vermeer scholarship and art scholarship in general. The case has been thoroughly by Jonathan Lopez in his finely researched and richly detailed The Man Who Made Vermeers. One may also access an article by Lopez online Van Meegeren’s Early Vermeers.

See Essential Vermeer, "Vermeer: Erroneous Attributions and Forgeries"

Genre Painting

"Genre" is a French term used to describe a type of subject matter of every day life. In the past decades, there has been a concerted effort to place Vermeer's painting within the context of mid-seventeenth century genre painting. Two important exhibitions, Vermeer and the Delft School (see excellent catalogue) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vermeer and the Dutch Interior in Madrid (2003) were organized with this intent.

Vermeer and the Delft School, edited by Walter Liedtke, is indispensable reading for those wishing to understand Vermeer's painting within the context of the local Delft tradition.

However, the best single publication which covers Dutch genre paintingat large is Dutch Seventeenth-Century Genre Painting: Its Stylistic and Thematic Evolution by Wayne Franits. Franits, a well-known scholar of Dutch painting, offers a wealth of information about these works as well as about seventeenth-century Dutch culture, its predilections and its prejudices. The author approaches genre paintings from a variety of perspectives, examining their reception among contemporary audiences and setting the works in their political, cultural, and economic contexts. The works emerge as distinctly conventional images, Franits shows, as genre artists continually replicated specific styles, motifs and a surprisingly restricted number of themes over the course of several generations. Luxuriously illustrated and with a full representation of the major artists and the cities where genre painting flourished, this book will delight students, scholars and general readers alike.

other sources:

Senses and Sins: Dutch Painters of Daily Life in the Seventeenth Century edited by Jeroen Giltaij with essays by Alexandra Gaba-Van Dongen, Jeroen Giltaij, Peter Hecht et al, 2004

Shifting Priorities: Gender and Genre in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting (Cultural Memory in the Present) by Nanette Salomon, 2004

Picturing Men and Women in the Dutch Golden Age: Paintings and People in Historical Perspective by Klaske Muilezarr & Derek Phillips, 2003

Paragons of Virtue : Women and Domesticity in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art, by Wayne E Franits, 2004

Questions of Meaning: Theme and Motif in Dutch Seventeenth-Century Painting by E. De Jongh & Michael Hoyle, 2004

Gerard Ter Borch by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., et al., 2004

Carel Fabritius 1622–1654 (Het complete oeuvre) by Frederik J. Duparc, Ariane van Suchtelen and Gero Seelig, 2004

The Paintings of Gerrit Dou by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. & Ronni Baer, 2000


In the last decades, scholarly research has strongly favored iconographic and technical analytical approaches to Vermeer's painting. Both methods are, at least in theory, more objective than the intuitive approach exemplified by Lawrence Gowing (Vermeer,1952 and 1970), and Edward Snow (A Study of Vermeer, 1994),Some scholars, however, have begun to feel that the margins of further iconographic interpretation are slim.

There is no measuring the number of iconographic studies of Vermeer's paintings. Snow's Vermeer, (1994), and Blankert's"Vermeer's Modern Themes and Their Tradition" (in Wheelock, Johannes Vermeer, 1995) provide ian excellant starting point.

other sources:

James A. Welu, "Vermeer: His Cartographic Sources."in Art Bulletin 57, 1975

James A. Welu, "Vermeer's Astronomer: Observations on an Open Book," in Art Bulletin 68, 1986

Eric Jan Sluijter, Vermeer, "Fame and Female Beauty: The Art of Painting," in Vermeer Studies, ed. Ivan Gaskell, 1998

Lisa Vergara, "Antiek and Modern in Vermeer's Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid," in Vermeer Studies, ed. Ivan Gaskell, 1998

Irene Netta, "The Phenomena of Time in the Art of Vermeer," in Vermeer Studies, 1998

Eric Jan Sluijter, "Vermeer, Fame and Female Beauey: The Art of Painting," in Vermeer Studies,1998

Hessel Miedema, "Johannes Vermeer's The Art of Painting," in Vermeer Studies,1998

Gregor J. M. Weber, "Vermeer's Use if the Picture-within-a-Picture: A New Approach,"in Vermeer Studies,1998

Nanette Salomon, "From Sexuality to Civility: Vermeer's Woman," in Vermeer Studies,1998

Daniel Arasse, "Vermeer's Private Allegories," in Vermeer Studies,1998

Elise Goodman, "The Landscape on the Wall in Vermeer," in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art), 2001

H. Rodney Nevitt Jr., "Vermeer and the Question of Love," in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, 2001

Klaas van Berkel, "Vermeer and the Representation of Science," in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art), 2001

Historical Documentation
& Dutch History

Very likely, every surviving historical document regarding Vermeer and his extended family is analyzed inVermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History (1989) by John Montias Documents that came to light after this book was published are discussed by the same author in "Recent Archival Research on Vermeer," (Vermeer Studies, 1998).

other sources:

John Montias, "New Documents on Vermeer and His Family," Oud Holland 91, 1977

S. Alpers, The Art of Describing : Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century, London,1983

John Montias, "Vermeer's Clients and Patrons," Art Bulletin 69, 1987

John Montias, "A Postscript to Vermeer and His Milieu," Mercury 12, 1991

D. Haks and M. C. van der Sman, "The Art Market in the Age of Vermeer," pp.124- 135, in Dutch Society in the Age of Vermeer, 1996

M. P. van Maarseveen, Vermeer and Delft: His Life and His Times, Stedelijk Museum het Prinshof, Amersfoort, 1996

Michael North, Art and Commerce in the Dutch Golden Age, 1997


No doubt, the most valuable resource for exploring the theme of letter reading and writing is the exhibition catalogue of Love Letters: Dutch Genre Paintings in the Age of Vermeer by Peter C. Sutton, Lisa Vergara and Ann Jensen Adams (2003).

This erudite but readable catalogue not only investigates Vermeer and the love-letter theme, but the contextual relationship of the letter theme to such cultural developments as the spread of literacy, the establishment of a reliable and widespread postal-delivery system, the rise of an epistolary literature and the importation and translation of letter writing manuals. From Westerbaen's translation into Dutch of Ovid's Heroides to the multiple French and Dutch editions of Puget de la Serre's Secrétaire à la Mode (the most popular letter-writing manual of the seventeenth century, the literature of the period attests to the allure and mystique of letter writing.

Maps & Globes

K. Van Cleempoel, "Representations of astrolabes in western art," in K. Van Cleempoel (ed.), Astrolabes at Greenwich. A Catalogue of the Astrolabes in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 99–111. I

James A. Welu, "Vermeer and Cartography," Ph.D. diss., Boston University

James A. Welu, "Vermeer: His Cartographic Sources." Art Bulletin 57 (December): pp. 529-547

James A. Welu, "The Map in Vermeer's Art of Painting." Imago Mundi 30, 2d series, 4:9-40

James A. Welu, "Vermeer's Astronomer: Observations on an Open Book." Art Bulletin 68 (June): pp. 263-267

Kees Vandvliet, "Vermeer and the Significance of Cartography in Science." in The Scholarly World of Vermeer, Zwolle, 1996

Music & Musical Instruments

Edwin Buijsen, "Music in the Age of Vermeer," in Dutch Society in the Age of Vermeer, pp. 106–123, 1996

Interview with Louis Peter Grijp, contemporary lutenist and expert in early Dutch Music, in Essential Vermeer website.

Adelheid Rech, "Folk Music in the Time of Vermeer," (Essential Vermeer), 2008.

Adelheid Rech, " Music in the Time of Vermeer," (Essential Vermeer), 2007.

Adelheid Rech, "The Carillon: Vermeer's Musical Companion," (Essential Vermeer), 2007.

Lucas van Dijck and Tom Koopman, Het Klavecimbael in de Nederlandse Kunst tot 1800: (The Harpsichord in Dutch Art before 1800), Amsterdam, 1987

Fredrick Noad, The Baroque Guitar, 1974

Painting Technique

The scientific examination of Vermeer's painting methods and techniques is probably still at its earliest stages. As of yet, no systematic research has been conducted on Vermeer's paintings even though there are only 35 (36?) in all. However, various aspects of his technique have been closely examined in a number of in-depth studies.

One of the first detailed accounts of Vermeer's painting technique can be found in P.T.A. Swillens' Vermeer which is by now very difficult to find. The best all-around study is certainly Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.'s Vermeer and the Art of Painting (1995) which discusses many facets of Vermeer's painting technique and the relationship they have with artistic expression. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work, by Ernst van de Wetering, deals not only with Rembrandt's painting technique but that of Dutch seventeenth-century painters in general but it should nonetheless be considered essential reading for those interested in Vermeer's technique.

The most comprehensive book on Veremmer's painting materials is Looking Over Vermeer’s Shoulder  Seventeenth-Century Dutch Fine Painting Techniques and Studio Practices with Particular Focus on the Work of Johannes Vermeer (second edition) (2016, by Jonathan Janson, author of the Essential Vermeer website.

other sources::

Herman Kuhn, A Study of the Pigments and the Grounds Used by Jan Vermeer, Reports and Studies in the History of Art 2, 1968

Arthur J. Wheelock Jr., "Pentimenti in Vermeer's painting: Changes in Style and Meaning," in Hollandische Genremalerei im 17. Symposium Berlin, 1984

Maryn Wynn Ainsworth, Art and Autoradiography: Insights into the Genesis of the Paintings of Rembrandt,Van Dyck and Vermeer, New York, 1993

Jørgen Wadum, "Vermeer's Use of Perspective, Historic Painting Techniques, Materials and Studio Practice," Preprints of a Symposium Held at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 26-29 June 1995

Koos Levy-van Halm, "Where did Vermeer Buy His Painting Materials? Theory and Practice," in Vermeer Studies, 1998

Nicola Costaras, "A Study of the Materials and Techniques of Johannes Vermeer," in Vermeer Studies, 1998

Karin M. Groen, Inez D. van der Werf, Klaas Jan van den Berg, Jaap J. Boon, "Scientific Examination of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring," in Vermeer Studies, 1998

E. Melanie Gifford, "Painting Light: Recent Observations on Vermeer's Technique,"in Vermeer Studies, 1998

Jørgen Wadum, "Contours of Vermeer," in Vermeer Studies, 1998

Robert Wald, "The Art of Painting. Observations on Approach and Technique" in Vermeer: Die Malkunst (in English and Germans)


Many so-called "pictures-within-a-picture" are found in the interiors by Vermeer as well as many of his contemporaries. Gregor J. M. Weber has shed new light on Vermeer's way of deepening pictorial meaning through in his fascinating essay "Vermeer's Use of the Picture-within-a-Picture: A New Approach," Vermeer Studies, (1998). Weber also discusses the painting (Caritas Romana) which hangs on the far right of the background wall in The Music Lesson. in "Ein neu entdecktes Bild im Bild von Johannes Vermeer," Weltkunst 70,2 (February 2000), pp. 225-228.

Another very interesting study of Vermeer's use of paintings-within-paintings can be found online in a very interesting article by Gregor J. M. Weber at the Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder web site.

for more detailed information, see:
Gregor Weber, Johannes Vermeer, "Pieter Jansz. van Asch und das Problem der Abbildungsttreue, "in Oud Holland 108, 1994

In his article Johannes Vermeer, Pieter Jansz. van Asch und das Problem der Abbildungsttreue in Oud Holland 108 (1994) Dr Weber shows that Johannes Vermeer took Van Asch as a model. In Weltkunst 70, no. 2 (February 2000) he published the painting Caritas Romana incorporated by Vermeer in The Music Lesson.

The hidden meaning of the landscapes which hang on Vermeer's white-washed walls are thoroughly explored in Elise Goodman's essay "The Landscape of the Wall in Vermeer" in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, 2001)


Although there exists no documentary proof, it is a generally accepted by most Vermeer scholars that the artist converted to Catholicism when he married Catharina Bolnes, daughter. John Montias provides substantial evidence of its validity in Vermeer and His Milieu. A Web of Social History (1989).

Various aspects of Vermeer's presumed conversion the significance of religious conversion in Dutch society are amply explored in an essay by Valerie Hedquist, "Religion in the Art and Life of Vermeer" (The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, 2001). The impact Catholicism upon Vermeer's painting is also discussed.

Also informative are the web studies "Catholicism, Delft & Vermeer," (Essential Vermeer) and "Vermeer's marriage in Schipluiden," (Essential Vermeer) by Adelheid Rech.

other sources:

Paul Abels, "Church and Religion in the Life of Vermeer," in Dutch Society in the Age of Vermeer, pp. 23-37, 1996

Rediscovery & Thorè- Bürger

Recent research has shed much light on Vermeer's artistic reputation both before and after his rediscovery in the 1850's by Thorè- Bürger (Thèophile Thorè 1807–1869). His article "Van der Meer de Delft"(Gazette des Beaux-Arts 21,1886) founded the basis for further Vermeer studies.

GAZZETTE DES BEAUX ARTS, Oct. 1, Nov. 1, Dec. 1 1866

3 articles of Van der Meer de Delft
Oct. 1, 1866 - pp. 297-330
Nov. 1, 1886 - pp. 458-470
Dec. 1, 1886 - pp. 542-575

In "Vermeer and Thorè- Bürger: Recoveries of Reputation," (Vermeer Studies, 1998) Frances Suzman Jowell examines and revaluates Thorè- Bürger's own reputation which has suffered somewhat in recent years due to his many erroneous attributions.

Frances Suzman Jowell, Thorè-Bürger and the art of the past, New York, 1977.

Frances Suzman Jowell, "Thorè-Bürger's ar collection: "a rather unusual gallery of bric-à-brac," in Simiolus: Netherlands quarterly for the history of art, vol.30, 2003 no. 1/2, pp. 54-55

Frances Suzman Jowell, "Thorè-Bürger- A Critical Role in the Art Market," Burlington Magazine, 138 (1996), pp. 155–116

Frances Suzman Jowell, "Thorè-Bürger and Vermeer: Critical and Commercial Fortunes," in Shop Talk: Studies in Horour of Seymour Slive (Cambridge, Mass., 1995), 125–126 n.11

Ben Broos, "Vermeer: Malice and Misconception," in Vermeer Studies, edited by Ivan Gaskell and Michael Jonkers, London and New Haven, 1998, pp. 18- 31

Ben Broos, " 'A celebre Peijntre nommé Vermer[e]r, ' "in Johannes Vermeer (, National Gallery of Art and Royal Cabinet of paintings Mauritshuis) (Washington and the Hague, 1995) pp.47-65, esp. 59-60.

Albert Blankert, "Théophile Thoré and appreciation in the nineteenth century," in Vermeer of Delft: Complete edition of the paintings, with contributions by Rob Rurrs and Willem L. van de Watering, Oxford, 1975, pp 67-69

John Nash, "Rediscovery," in Vermeer, Amsterdam, 199, pp. 11–14

Science & Scientific Instruments

K. van Berkel, W. J. Wadum and K. Zandvliet, The Scholarly World of Vermeer, Zwolle, 1996

Klaas van Berkel, "Johannes Vermeer and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek," in the exhibition catalogue, Johannes Vermeer; Der Geograph und Der Astronom nach 200 Jaren wieder vereint, Frankfurt, 1997, pp. 23-30

Klaas van Berkel, "Vermeer and the Representation of Science," in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art, 2001

Per-Olov Elovosson, The Geographer's Heart: A Study of Vermeer's Scientists, Konsthistirisk Tidskrift 60, 1991

Seventeenth-Century Dutch Perspective Boxes (Peep Shows)

Perspective boxes, or "peeps shows" as they are sometimes referred to, are one of the unique results of the obsessive pursuit of realism by seventeenth-century Dutch painters. These singular constructions consist in a closed wooden box painted on the inside with illusionist scene of a church or domestic interior. The illusion is forced on the viewer by the fact of monocular vision--with one eye it is impossible to judge the scale and depth--and by arranging the perspective construction of the different panels so that they coincide at the single point of the peephole. An amazing illusion of depth is produced. Only few of these devises have survived.

other sources:

Claus Jensen, "Perspektivkasser og matematik" (Perspective Boxes and Mathematics), in Matilde (in Danish), no. 19, March 2004, pp. 20-25, an electronic version available at:

S. Koslow, "De wonderlijke Perspectyfkas". An Aspect of Seventeenth Century Dutch Painting, Oud Holland, 82 (1967), pp. 33-56

David Bomford, "Perspective, Anamorphosis, and Illusion: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Peeps Shows," in Vermeer Studies, edited by Ivan Gaskell and Michael Jonkers, London and New Haven, 1998, pp. 125–135

School of Delft

The origin and nature of the School of Delft as well as Vermeer's role in it, have long been debated. The opulent exhibition catalogue by Walter Liedtke for the exhibition held in New York and London (Vermeer and the Delft School. 2000), now constitutes the most complete resource in regards. Also useful are A View of Delft: Vermeer and his Contemporaries by Walter Liedtke and Peter Sutton, Vermeer and the Delft Style, 2008.

see also:

"The School of Delft" (Essential Vermeer).



Considering the fact that Vermeer represented thirty-nine women in his interiors, it is not surprising that much Vermeer research centers around the role they play in his art. A great part of Lawrence Gowing's (Vermeer, 1952 and 1970) penetrating book is dedicated to the personal woman-painter relationship and of the supreme importance he invests in them as expressive vehicles.

see also:

Edward Snow, A Study of Vermeer, 1998

Lisa Vergara's "Perspective of Woman in the Art of Vermeer" (The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer (Cambridge Companions to the History of Art), 2001) is an exceptionally fine essay. She takes on the enormous subject of Vermeer's women, which involves every aspect of his production, from professional aspirations to personal predilections, from broad cultural norms to private meditations, from mundane working conditions to exquisite pictorial adjustments. Vergara links the dominance of women in Vermeer's work to his private circumstances, the desires of his elite patrons, and the Dutch construction of femininity. She focuses specifically on just three pictures: The Art of Painting, Woman Holding a Balance, and The Music Lesson.

other sources:

M. Jonker, "From Sexuality to Civility: Vermeer's Women," in Vermeer Studies, ed. Ivan Gaskell, 1998

Van Meegeren Case

The fascinating post-World War II forgery case had international repercussions not only regarding Vermeer scholarship, but art scholarship in general. The case has recently been brought up again by Jonathan Lopez in his finely researched and richly detailed The Man Who Made Vermeers. One may also access an online article by Lopez at: Van Meegeren’s Early Vermeers.

other sources:

"Frans van Meegeren," Essential Vermeer.

John Godley, The Master Forger: The Story of Han van Meegeren, New York, 1952

Some details of the case can be found at My

Another informative web site which deals with the matter is The Art Forgeries of Han van Meegeren.

Vermeer's Living Quarters

Much has been written about the living quarters of Vermeer in Delft and the precise location of the scene represented in the artist's iconic The Little Street.

Click here to visit the website of Kees Kaldenbach for detailed information about the presumed living quarters house of Vermeer.

Click here to access a detailed house-by-house study of Vermeer's neighborhood (with ample database), which gives an alternative location for Vermeer living quarters by Hans G. Slager.

An exhibition at the Rijksmuseum presents Frans Grijzenhout’new theory about the location of the scene shown by Johannes Vermeer in The Little Street. Grijzenhout’s proposal is that the painting shows what are today Numbers 40 and 42 Vlamingstraat in Delft.  Grijzenhout idea is based on measurements found in the Legger van het diepen der wateren binnen de stadt Delft [Ledger of the dredging of canals in the town of Delft], a document compiled from 1666 onwards recording the widths of house frontages for tax purposes.3

The London architect and autthor of the influential Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces, Philip Steadman debates Grijzenhout hypothesis in his detailed essay, "A More Credible Detective Story."