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

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $19.50
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 61%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (9) from $19.50   
  • New (4) from $30.35   
  • Used (5) from $19.50   


"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.
Read More Show Less

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)

Read More Show Less

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.

Read More Show Less

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

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)