Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Jane Jelley

Why visit Vermeer?

An exhibition of paintings by Johannes Vermeer caused a frenzy in Washington DC in 1995. The National Gallery of Art was booked to capacity, and there were lines of hopeful visitors queued around the block, despite sub-zero conditions outside. Vermeer has just returned to Washington, and the gallery staff expects a full house, but have things changed now? Why would you bother to go to a museum to see great art? With the tap of a finger, you can see masterpieces up close on your screen; you can get nearer than any museum attendant would ever allow.

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The mysterious painting methods of Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer’s luminous paintings are loved and admired around the world, yet it is not fully understood exactly what painting methods he used. Experts over the years have been confounded as to how he captured light in such a way. The image below discusses seven of his masterpieces, and reveals the few traces Vermeer has left behind in an intriguing detective story.

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