Vermeer's Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice

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Overview

"The seventeenth-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, best known today for his Girl with a Pearl Earring, has famously been seen as an enigma since his "discovery" as an unknown genius around 1860. In Vermeer's Family Secrets, Benjamin Binstock offers crucial solutions to the riddle of the "Sphinx of Delft." This book provides the first systematic account of Vermeer's family members as models, carefully follows his gradual artistic evolution, responses to predecessors such as Rembrandt and Carel Fabritius, and exchanges with his peers, and re-interprets crucial documents concerning Vermeer. Lavishly illustrated with over 180 black and white images and more than sixty color plates, the book also includes a remarkable two-page color spread that presents the entirety of Vermeer's oeuvre arranged in chronological order and relative scale for visual comparison. Through word and image, Binstock advances a new understanding of Vermeer's art in light of his life and his singular vision.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Binstock resembles the detective Hercule Poirot in his methodical disentangling of the historical Vermeer from the accretion of too generous attributions and from the multiplicity of critical views, all directed to the uncovering of the artist whose autobiographical immersion in Delft, in home, and in family so fully constituted his art."—Richard Brilliant, Columbia University, author of Portraiture and My Laocoön: Alternative Claims in the Interpretation of Artworks

"Impassioned and fascinating, this novel account of the intimate links between Vermeer’s art and life bristles with intelligence. It offers not only sympathetic and imaginative readings of the paintings, but questions some basic assumptions in art history. Anyone interested in Vermeer will be struck by Binstock’s audacity, erudition, and deep love of art."—Martha Hollander, Hofstra University, author of An Entrance for the Eyes: Space and Meaning in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art

"Vermeer's Family Secrets is a highly original and searching account of one of the most elusive of painters. Written with delightful verve, visual subtlety, and the courage to upend the platitudes and received wisdom of certain forms of art history, Binstock's book promises a revolution in the study of Vermeer, his circule, and his milieu."—Jonathan Gilmore, Yale University, author of The Life of a Style: Beginnings and Endings in the Narrative of Art History

"This book offers strong, informed opinions, bold claims, and precise chronology about one of art history’s favorite painters. While Binstock’s forceful arguments are sure to be controversial, they will inevitably provoke fresh scholarly discussion and rekindle close examination of Vermeer’s luminous pictures (and those of Carel Fabritius)."—Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania, author of Hieronymus Bosch and Rembrandt’s Faith (co-authored with Shelley Perlove)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415966641
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/18/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Binstock earned his Ph.D. in Art History at Columbia University, after study in Aix-en-Provence, Berkeley, Berlin, and Amsterdam. He was a visiting member of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton and the American Academy of Berlin, and has taught at Columbia, New York University, CUNY, and presently at Cooper Union in downtown Manhattan.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations Preface and Acknowledgments Introduction: It’s a Vermeer! 1. In Search of Vermeer 2. Origins and Originality 3. Fabritius's Phoenix 4. An Art of Women 5. Painting and Procreation 6. The Fat Lady Sings 7. The Apprenticeship of Maria Vermeer Appendices

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