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View of Delft (Dutch: Gezicht op Delft) is an oil painting by Johannes Vermeer, painted ca. 1660–1661. The painting of the Dutch artist's hometown is among his most popular,[1] painted at a time when cityscapes were uncommon. It is one of three known paintings of Delft by Vermeer, along with The Little Street and the lost painting House Standing in Delft.[2] The use of pointillism in the work suggests that it postdates The Little Street, and the absence of bells in the tower of the New Church dates it to 1660-1661. Vermeer's View of Delft has been held in the Dutch Royal Cabinet of Paintings at the Mauritshuis in The Hague since its establishment in 1822.

View of Delft
Dutch: Gezicht op Delft
Vermeer-view-of-delft.jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year 1660–1661
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 96.5 cm × 115.7 cm (38.0 in × 45.6 in)
Location Mauritshuis, The Hague

Contents

DescriptionEdit

The landscape was painted from an elevated position to the southeast of Delft, possibly the upper floor of a house on the quayside across the river Schie. The artist is looking back to the city to the northwest, with the Schiedam Gate (nl) in the middle of the composition, and the Rotterdam Gate (nl) and its barbican to the right, all reflected in the water of the harbour created in 1616-1620. Behind the Schiedam Gate is the long red-roofed arsenal (the Armamentarium).

It is a morning scene, with the sun to the east (viewer's right) illuminating the Protestant Nieuwe Kerk ("New Church", right of centre) before its bells were replaced in 1660. The New Church in Delft is the burial place of William the Silent and other members of the House of Orange-Nassau.

To the left is the tower the "De Papegaey" (Parrot) brewery (since demolished) and, to its left, the top of the tower of the Oude Kerk ("Old Church"). Some barges are drawn up on the quayside, with a few people passing by. The top half of the painting is dominated by a cloudy sky, with a dark cloud suggesting a rain shower has just passsed.

It is believed that Vermeer created this painting using an optical device - possibly a camera obscura, or a telescope - to capture the detail.

Painting materialsEdit

The technical analysis[3] shows that Vermeer used a limited choice of pigments for this painting: calcite, lead white, yellow ochre, natural ultramarine and madder lake are the main painting materials.[4] His painting technique, on the other hand, is very elaborate and meticulous.[5]

LegacyEdit

The painting may have been bought by Pieter van Ruijven and inherited by his daughter Magdalena. It is known to have passed through the collection of her husband Jacob Dissius. It was auctioned in 1822, and bought for 2,900 guilders for the new Dutch Royal Cabinet of Paintings established at the Mauritshuis.

The painting features in Marcel Proust's novel In Search of Lost Time, in the death scene of the writer Bergotte in The Captive. Proust himself greatly admired Vermeer, particularly this painting. When seeing the work for the first time, Proust is quoted as saying:

"Ever since I saw the View of Delft in the museum in The Hague, I have known that I had seen the most beautiful painting in the world".[6]

In 2011, the painting was featured on gold and silver commemorative coins issued by the Royal Dutch Mint.[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Slatkes, Leonard J. (16 July 1981). Vermeer and his contemporaries. Abbeville Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-89659-195-0. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Montias, John Michael (1 January 1991). Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History. Princeton University Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-691-00289-7. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  3. ^ Kuhn, H. A Study of the Pigments and Grounds used by Jan Vermeer. Reports and Studies in the History of Art, 1968, 154–202
  4. ^ Johannes Vermeer, 'View of Delft', ColourLex
  5. ^ Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. and C. J. Kaldenbach, Vermeer’s View of Delft” and His Vision of Reality, Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 3, No. 6 (1982), pp. 9–35
  6. ^ Townsend, Gabrielle (2008-01-01). Proust's Imaginary Museum. Peter Lang. ISBN 9783039111244. 
  7. ^ "New Coins Pay Homage to Dutch Artwork and the Old Dutch Masters". Coin Update. 15 April 2011. 

Further readingEdit

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