20% OFF FRAMING for a limited time only

Johannes Vermeer Artist Biography

Johannes Vermeer is considered one of the great Dutch masters of all time, although only about 30 paintings attributed to him exist. His painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ is now internationally recognised as a result of the book and film recounting the possible background to its creation. Born in Delft, Netherlands, circa October 31, 1632, Johannes Vermeer spent his artistic career there. Although, his works have been a source of inspiration and fascination for centuries, but much of his life remains a mystery.

His father, Reynier, came from a family of craftsmen in the town of Delft, and his mother, Digna, had a Flemish background. After his baptismal record at a local church, Johannes Vermeer seems to disappear for nearly 20 years. He likely had a Calvinist upbringing. His father worked as a tavern keeper and an art merchant, and Vermeer inherited both of these business upon his father's death in 1652. The following year, Vermeer married Catherina Bolnes. Bolnes was Catholic, and Vermeer converted to her faith. The couple moved in with her mother, and would eventually have 11 children together.

Registered with the Delft Guild as a master painter, there is unfortunately no record of who Johannes Vermeer may have apprenticed under, or whether he studied locally or abroad. Even so, the influence of Caravaggio is apparent in Johannes Vermeer's early works, including "The Procuress" (1656). The painter also explored mythology in "Diana and Her Companions" (1655-56) and religion in "Christ in the House of Mary and Martha" (c. 1655).

Johannes Vermeer used to transform modest domestic interiors into monumental scenes imbued with moral significance. The eye is drawn into the picture by the careful placing of objects and a clearly defined architectural space. Figures pursue tranquil occupations, and the symbolic meaning of the scene is sometimes revealed through a painting within the painting.

Johannes Vermeer enjoyed some local success in Delft, selling his works to a small number of local collectors. However, he was not well-known outside of his community during his lifetime. His works were rediscovered at the end of the 19th century, bringing him to wider attention and claiming his place as of the great Dutch masters.

By 1672, Johannes Vermeer was in financial trouble due in large part to the fact that the Dutch economy had suffered terribly after the country was invaded by France in 1672. He died insolvent in 1675, leaving his wife and many children destitute. Despite a small legacy in terms of works, Johannes Vermeer has became a world-renowned artist, and his works have been hung in many prominent museums around the globe. 

Scroll To Top