Born on 31 October 1632, Johannes Vermeer was barely known outside of his hometown of Delft in the Netherlands where a local celebrity, at least as a painter of some distinction, he found patronage enough to provide for his wife and ever increasing family.
But following his death in 1675, aged just 43, he was speedily forgotten only being rediscovered in France in the 1860’s. His reputation has since soared and he is now considered to be one of the premier Dutch Masters.
Yet he only produced 34 known paintings during his lifetime leaving no etchings or preliminary drawings and his subject matter was limited rarely painting beyond the parameters of his own physical and emotional awareness with one or two rooms of his modest house, the furniture artfully reassigned, becoming the tiny sphere of his creativity.
With the emphasis on light and colour he daubed the canvass with a delicacy and precision that would leave a paintbrush barely tainted and in doing so created images of crystallised perfection.
His alleged use of the Camera Obscura, a box that captures and preserves the image reflecting it upon a canvass or wall whilst also maintaining both its colour and perspective remains controversial.
His deliberate and sober style of painting has seen him accused of lacking both dynamism and daring and drawn comparisons with his contemporaries most notably Rembrandt.
But whilst Rembrandt, for whom there could never be enough paint, revealed beauty in the grime and filth of everyday life and sought respect through the willingness to offend, Vermeer painted unblemished visions of perfection leaving the space of eye and thought for the suggestion of others.