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Posted January 28, 2012
This book for the general reader includes large, full-color illustrations of Vermeer’s thirty-five known works. The author summarizes what is known about Vermeer’s life and artistic influences, and also provides commentary on each of the plates. I was surprised to learn that while Vermeer was a respected artist during his lifetime, he was not hailed as a genius until many years after his death. He died in poverty, and for more than a century afterwards his work remained mired in (relative) obscurity until the enthusiasm of one collector, Theophile Thore, drew the world’s attention to the paintings’ understated brilliance.
I would have liked a little more information about the individual plates. Because so many of Vermeer’s paintings are domestic interiors, it would have been helpful to know the degree to which the interiors reflect the typical upper-middle-class household in 17th-century Delft.