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Introduction

Johannes Vermeer is a renowned Dutch painter who lived between 1632 and 1675. The exact date of his birth is not well known. Some historians claim that Johannes was born in earlier than 1632. Johannes Vermeer was specialized in paintings, especially for interior designs. Generally, there is little information known about the life of Johannes. Most information available about him is comments from his fellow friends. For example, John Montias made recommendable contributions on his findings about Johannes’ life. Montias filed various ancient documents such as wills, inventories and warrants as evidenced about his information on Johannes’ life. Unjustified sources which include organizational registers and trade documents claim that Johannes must have lived for approximately 45 years, and he was buried on the fifteenth day of December 1975 after he died.

Birth

Johannes was born and raised in Delft. Delft was one of the most prosperous towns in Dutch, which is currently known as Netherlands. He was born to Reynier and Baltens. Johannes was the second child in the Reynier’s family and probably the only son he had. He was born in a low class family and one of the parents, Baltens was illiterate just as his grandparents. His father was a very hardworking and assiduous man who had various investments. Most of Reynier’s investments were in painting businesses.

A good example of his businesses is the Mechelen, which Vermeer inherited after his father’s death. The enterprise was located in Markt. Johannes’ wealth is believed to have been generated from Delftware factories and other businesses which were run by his father. Gaskell asserted that Vermeer’s life changed from being a lower class artisan to a moderately rich person after he acquired the wealth of his father (2000).

Marriage, Religious and Family Life

Johannes Vermeer was born of Christian parents. Immediately after his birth, he was baptized in Reformed Church. Both of his parents used to be members of the Reformed Church. In my view, he was most probably raised as a Protestant. He later converted to Catholicism after marrying Bolnes.

Johannes Vermeer got married in 1654 to Catharina Bolenes who was a strong believer of the Roman Catholic faith. During their marriage, Johannes Vermeer and Catharina were blessed with fourteen children. Most of Johannes Vermeer’ children had names that had religious conations, for instance, one of his children was called Ignatius. Most probably, Ignatius was named after the founder of Jesuit order. Bolnes was older than Vermeer by approximately two years.

His conversion to Catholicism facilitated him in doing an artistry work called Allegory of Catholic Faith which put more emphasis on his personal view on religion. However, some theology scholars argued that it was not clear whether the painting was a representation of Johannes Vermeer’ own view on religion or it reflected the beliefs of Vermeer’s patron.

Career in Artistry Works

There is no clear information pertaining to the career of Johannes Vermeer, however, it is believed that Carel Fabritius must have had his teacher of artworks. Johannes Vermeer was a member of the Saint Luke’s Guild. This was a powerful trade organization which regulated artistry and painting industry. It is believed that this is where he got his painting and artistry skills. He was put under apprenticeship for two years under the Saint Luke’s Guild apprenticeship program. His admission to the organization must have been facilitated by the fact that his father was once a member of the same organization. Some artistry historians argue that Vermeer taught himself artistry using the information he got from his father’s paintings whereas others suggest that Vermeer was trained by a Catholic painter known as Abraham Bloemaert. However, no hard evidence has found to support these claims. Historians also believe that Vermeer had a master and teacher for artistry at Guilds called Leonaert Bramer. In contrast to this believe, most scholars have argued that the paintings of Bramer and Vermeer had very little similarities and did not show any close linkage. This could be a proof that Bramer had little or no influence on Vermeer’s works. Vermeer’s paintings were mainly made of domestic interior scenes. He often used light in his works. He was also renowned for masterly treatment of artistic works.

According to Wheelock and Vermeer, most of Johannes’ works consisted of paintings of furniture and decorations and usually portrayed women. Johannes Vermeer had a total of thirty six paintings attributed to him. In 1952, P. Swellings outlined a number of pictures of Vermeer in an essay called Johannes Vermeer Painter of Delft, 1632-1675 (1997). It is claimed that Johannes inherited his artistry knowledge and works from his father, Reijnier. When his father died in 1652, Johannes took over his father’s business in artworks.

Fame and Recognition

During his lifetime, Johannes Vermeer received moderate recognition from Delft and The Hague. However, for more than two centuries, his artistic works remained in the dark with less appreciation or recognition. The artistic works were later rediscovered by Gustav F. Waagen and Theophile who published essays attributing several pictures to Johannes Vermeer. Furthermore, he is acknowledged as one of the greatest painters who lived during the Dutch Golden Age. His paintings were the most celebrated during his time. He was also elected as the headman when he was working at Saint Luke’s Guild. This position gave him an opportunity to visit The Hague as a judge of various paintings.

Death

Vermeer died at the age of forty three. At the time of his death, he had moved to stay with his mother-in-law. Johannes Vermeer was buried on December 1675. According to his wife Bolnes, Vermeer died of increased burden of raising children. She claimed that Johannes Vermeer was overwhelmed with rearing his children due to this poor economic status (Venezia & Vermeer, 2002). After Vermeer’s death, his wife Bolnes saved some of his work. However, these paintings were claimed by creditors whom Vermeer owed money before his death.

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