Vermeer is one of the great Dutch painters of the 17th century, best known for paintings that magically capture an atmosphere of light. This course will survey his work from his earliest history paintings to his images of men and women being sociable with music or wine, women with pearls in intimate interiors (the pearl paintings), men in their studies, and two cityscapes. Perhaps most familiar are the Milkmaid (Rijksmuseum) and the Girl with the Pearl Earring (Mauritshuis). Vermeer’s earliest works reveal his ambition to represent biblical and mythological subjects, but he found his real interest to be close observation of people in contemplative or social situations. Such subjects are often given the tag “genre,” which often indicates scenes from daily life. Among Vermeer’s close contemporaries are Pieter de Hooch and Gabriel Metsu, whose works offer revealing comparisons. All of Vermeer’s paintings are rich with allusions to symbolism, moral messages, or life in Delft.
No books or other materials are required for purchase, but recommended reading will be suggested that is likely available at libraries. Most useful is the website essentialvermeer.com that functions as an encyclopedia for all things Vermeer.