Art within Art: The Careful Compositions of Vermeer
By Dr Richard Stemp
17th February 2021 6pm

Whatever you have read – or whatever films you have seen – we know very little about Johannes Vermeer. He married a Catholic in the predominantly Protestant Dutch Republic, his mother-in-law collected art and he worked as an art dealer. Apart from this, he was a painter – although only 34 paintings are universally accepted as his. He may well have been a slow and careful painter – the extreme order and balance of his compositions suggest that he was, a muted precursor of Mondrian in the 20th Century.

Many of his paintings include visual imagery, whether in the form of paintings hanging on the wall, Delft tiles, maps or on the lids of musical instruments, and these were always chosen for a reason. We will explore these details in many of the accepted works, focussing on the two paintings in the National Gallery in London and the recently restored Girl reading a Letter and an Open Window in Dresden. The remarkable discoveries that have been about the last of these will make it the centrepiece of an exhibition in Dresden later in 2021, which we plan to visit.

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