January 1, 2012

Starting the Year with Johannes Vermeer: "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary"

Since there are only 30+ paintings attributed to Johannes Vermeer along with a handful of disputed works, I thought it would be fun to post one every day to start out the new year. I will post the ones I like the least first and the ones I like the best last. 

Nationality: Dutch
Born-Died: 1632-1675

Creation Date:  before 1655
Size: 63 × 55.9 inch (160 × 142  cm)
Media: Oil on canvas
Location: The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

This is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, known Vermeer works. Unfortuately, it is really nothing special as Vermeer paintings go. I have seen this work in person several times and it has never impressed me when I compared it to similar works from the same time period. It is quite large and the vivid, lush surface distinctive of Vermeers later work isn't there. Scenes of this kind, called "history paintings," were considered the loftiest subject for an artist tackle and it is believed that an ambitious, young Vermeer sought to tackle it as well. The theme of Jesus in the house of Mary and Martha was one that many artists in Vermeer's region and time period painted as well.

Rand described Vermeer as a "Naturalist" and this is one of the many Vermeer paintings that doesn't really fit that categorization.

1 comment:

  1. “…this is one of the…Vermeer paintings that doesn't really fit that categorization [Naturalism].”

    You make a valid point.