with No Comments



The quiet rooms, the silent ladies, the magic light of the world of Vermeer. It is the beginning of a new world in Western painting. No more crucifixions. No altarpieces. No Madonnas. After five hundred years, suddenly the Madonna and Child disappear from painting in Holland and a new subject appears: the common man and the common woman. Maids. Cleaning women. Geographers. Astronomers. It is a new day.


1591 Birth of Vermeer's father, Reyner Jansz. Grandfather Jan, a tailor from Flanders. Now recently had moved to Delft.
1615 Marriage of Reyner Jansz, then a weaver, to Digna Baltens, in Amsterdam.
1620 In Delft: Birth of the couple's first child, Geertruijt.
1631 Reyner Jansz joins the Guild of Saint Luke as "Master Art Dealer." Vermeer will later join the same guild also with the occupation as art dealer and painter. (Interesting that two of three greatest Dutch painters of all time were both art dealers as well as painters).
1632 Birth of "Johannis." Baptism in the New Church (Niewe Kerk) in Delft.
1641 Reyner buys the house and adjoining inn on the central market square of Delft called "Mechelin," a two story substantial structure at the center of Delft for 2700 florins (value of florin and guilder very close ... both were very solid currency).
1652 Death of Vermeer's father: Reyner.
1653 April fifth, Vermeer registers his intention to marry Catharina Bolnes. Two witnesses state in the documents that on the previous evening, Vermeer's future mother-in-law, Maria Thins, has refused to sign a formal consent to the marriage but that she "would suffer the marriage banns to be published and would tolerate it." Thus we can assume that Maria lacked faith in her future son-in-law's prospects. April twentieth, Johannes Vermeer marries Catharina Bolnes. December twenty-ninth, Vermeer is registered in the Guild of Saint Luke as a master painter. We know nothing about his years of study: who his teacher was, who his fellow students were.
1655 Vermeer signs and dates a painting: Saint Praxedis.
1657 Maria Thins writes her first will and leaves three hundred guilders to Vermeer and his wife Catharina and her jewels to her namesake Maria, Vermeer's first (of 11) child. Obviously now in 1657 mother-in-law Maria is in good standing with her daughter and son-in-law, a fact that is demonstrated repeatedly in her generosity to them, including having them move into her home at one point. Vermeer borrows two hundred guilders from a wealthy Delft burgher. So in 1657, the painting business is not able to pay his bills for his growing family.
1660 A child of the Vermeers is buried in the Old Church (Oude Kerk) and documents indicate that the Vermeers were probably now living with Catharina's mother in the Roman Catholic part of the city called Papist's Corner.
1662 Vermeer is elected head of the Saint Luke's Guild for a term of two years indicating that he is a repected member of the painting world of Delft at this time.
1663 French diplomat Balthasar de Monconys (1611-1655) visits Delft to see Vermeer's paintings. Vermeer has none in his studio (because they were all loaned out to creditors or because he had sold them all?) and the diplomat is told that he must go see two of the paintings in the shop of a baker who had the paintings as surety on a loan. The diplomat goes to see the paintings and declares that they are over priced.
1663 Birth of first son for Vermeer and wife Catharina.
1667 In a patriotic poem about Delft, Vermeer is listed as a worthy successor to the deceased painter Carel Fabritius. (One of our only documented statements about Vermeer's reputation during his lifetime).
1670 Death of Vermeer's mother and his sister and Vermeer inherits 148 guilders and the family house-inn known as "Mechelin." He is also elected again as headman of the Guild of Saint Luke.
1672 Vermeer and the Delft painter Johannes Jordaens are asked to come to The Hague to examine the worth of twelve paintings that are reputed to be outstanding works of Italian art. Vermeer and his companion testify that the works are "great pieces of rubbish and bad paintings." This is fascinating since it establishes that is some way Vermeer had been able to become an expert in Italian painting. How? Had he been to Italy or had he only seen the many examples of Italian art in the Netherlands. Either way it clarifies for us what he knew about art.
1674 Vermeer's father-in-law dies and Vermeer travels to Gouda to settle the estate. (Obviously Maria now trusts him)
1675 Vermeer borrows 1,000 guilders in Amsterdam. This is a large sum and suggests that even now at this advanced stage of his career he is unable to sell enough paintings to pay all the bills. Johannes Vermeer dies on December sixteenth at the age of forty-three and is buried in the Old Church of Delft. He is survived by his wife Catharina and eleven children.
1676 Catharina sells two of her husband's paintings to the baker Hendrick van Buyten to settle a debt of 617 guilders thus giving us some idea of what a painting of Vermeer might be worth in 1676. But at the same time a Haarlem art dealer acting for one of Vermeer's creditors buys twenty-six paintings for a value of five hundred guilders and transfers the collection to Haarlem. In this same year a written inventory of movable goods in Vermeer's estate is produced and thus helps art historians to locate various items in his paintings. And the authorities in Delft appoint Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, an early developer of the microscope, as the executor of the Vermeer estate. The twenty-six paintings taken to Haarlem are brought back for a public sale to be arranged by Leeuwenhoek.
1677 In Guildhall of Saint Luke, Delft: A sale of paintings in the Vermeer estate.
1680 Vermeer's mother-in-law Maria Thins dies.
1687 Vermeer's wife Catharina dies.


1600 (Feb) Giordano Bruno burned as heretic: Campo dei Fiori-Rome. Shakespeare's Hamlet. Tycho Brahe and Johanes Kepler working together in Prague.
1601 Earl of Essex leads revolt against Eliz; is tried and executed. Queen Eliz delivers her "Golden Speech" surveying 43 year reign. Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci admitted to Peking.
1603 Death of Queen Elizabeth of England. Cousin James of Scotland succeeds as James I.
1605 Cervantes' Don Quixote Part I, published. Shakespeare's King Lear and Macbeth. Sir Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning. In London, Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.
1606 Birth of Rembrandt. (d. 1669)
1607 Foundation of colony of Jamestown, Virginia. first English settlement in America.
1608 Birth of John Milton. Dutchman John Lippershey invents telescope. First "checks" (Cash letters) in use in Netherlands.
1609 Dutch East India Co ships first tea to Europe from China.
1610 Galileo, The Starry Messenger, published in Venice. Assassination of King Henry IV of France. succeeded by his son Louis XIII at age 9. mother Marie de' Medici as Regent.Death of Caravaggio. Henry Hudson sails into Hudson's Straits and discovers Hudson's Bay.
1611 John Donne: Anatomy of the World.
1612 Dutch on Manhattan Island. Begin building very tall buildings.
1614 Sir Walter Raleigh writes The History of the World. Death of El Greco.
1616 Death of Shakespeare. Death of Cervantes.
1618 Thirty Years War. all Europe drawn in (Prot vs Cath).
1619 Wm Harvey announces discovery of circulation of blood. (London).
1620 Pilgrims leave Plymouth, England in Mayflower, seek religious liberty (Puritans).
1621 Philip IV, King of Spain (to 1665), Velasquez paints the king.
1621 Protestant rebellion in France. War between Holland and Spain.
1622 Weekeley Newes issued in London for first time. Beginning of modern newspapers, London ahead of all cities.
1623 Publish the First Folio edition of Mr William Shakespeare's "Comedies, Histories and Tragedies Published According to the True Originall Copies."
1625 Death of King James I. succeeded by son Charles I.
1626 Death of Francis Bacon. (b. 1561)
1630 John Winthrop (1587-1649) sails with Plymouth Company expedition, April arrives Mass. with 1000 settlers, founds Boston in Sept, becomes first governor of the state, 16,000 more settlers follow.
1632 (Feb.21) Galileo: Dialogue on Two Chief World Systems (pub in Flo). First coffee shop opens in London(Newspapers and coffee houses).Birth of John Locke. Rembrandt: Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp(Science in art).
1633 (Jun) Galileo in before Inquisition: abjures the Dialogue in Rome.
1636 Foundation of Harvard. Tea appears in Paris for first time.
1638 Nicolas Poussin paints "Et in Arcadia Ego" appearance of central myth of 18th century Romanticism, run off to country, be a shepherd which all French aristocracy will soon enjoy: playing at Arcadia in the woods near their castles.
1640 Short Parliament & Long Parliament(to 1653).Begin of war between King of England and the Parliament.
1642 Begin hostilities of the English Civil War. All theaters closed in England: by order of the Puritans now in control of Parliament. (till 1660). Rembrandt's The Night Watch.Death of Galileo.
1643 King Louis XIV becomes King of France (to 1715) the most powerful monarch of the 17th century. Moliere founds the Illustre Theatre in Paris, later Comedie Francaise.
1644 Descartes: Principia philosophicae ("Cogito ergo sum"). John Milton: Areopagitica argues for the freedom of the press, radical idea and part of the growing democratic spirit of both England and the new colonies.
1647 King Charles of England captured, taken prisoner.
1648 End of 30 Yrs War, pop of Germany down to 8 mil from 17 mil(1618).
1649 (Jan 19)Trial of King of England before court of Parliament. (Jan. 30)Execution of the King of England by Parliament.
1660 Parliament invites Charles II: Come back into England.
1665 First issue of London Gazette: one of first newspapers.
1667 John Milton: Paradise Lost.
1669 Death of Rembrandt. (b. 1606)
1675 Death of Vermeer. (b. 1632)
1685 Death of King Charles II of England, succeeded by James II.
1688 Expel James II, invite in Protestant William and Mary from Holland.
1689 Parliament confirms "abdication" of James, accession of Wm & Mary. Proclamation of a Declaration of Rights in England (freedom of speech, press).
1690 John Locke: Essay Concerning Human Understanding.


Vermeer Bibilography

There is an interesting new biography now available on Vermeer and
well-reviewed in the April 16, 2001 New Yorker.

Vermeer : A View of Delft

by Anthony Bailey

List Price: $27.50

Hardcover – 256 pages 1 Ed edition (April 2001)

Henry Holt & Company, Inc.; ISBN: 0805067183

A review from Booklist:

Bailey, a prolific, polished, and avid writer, last portrayed the landscape
painter J. M. W. Turner and now fleshes out the life story of one of
the most revered and elusive painters of all time, Vermeer, the artist-poet
of light, serenity, the interior life, and womankind. A nimble and entertaining
writer, Bailey makes up for a
paucity of documentation of Vermeer’s life and temperament by presenting
an energetically detailed depiction of the painter’s world, both the
city of Delft and his chaotic household, musing on the mystery of how
Vermeer achieved the quiet, even holy, perfection of his paintings with
11 young children underfoot. Bailey
muses on Protestant Vermeer’s marriage to a well-off Catholic and theorizes
that he took over his father’s art dealership, used a camera obscura,
and knew the pioneering naturalist Anthony van Leeuwenhoek. Dead at
43 with 35 masterpieces ensuring his immortality, Vermeer’s influence
on art, literature, and even war (see Bailey’s lively account of how
the heroic forger, Anthonius van Meegeren, fooled Goring with a fake
Vermeer and rescued 200 looted paintings) has been cosmic. Donna Seaman,
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

A review from Library Journal:

Fluent essayist and New Yorker contributor Bailey gives a personalized
overview of Johannes Vermeer, reading from the paintings to the man,
and vice versa. Much of Bailey’s factual underpinnings comes from the
work of John Montias (Vermeer and His Milieu, 1989. o.p., and Artists
and Artisans of Delft, 1982. o.p.), but he has a penetrating eye himself,
and Vermeer, of whom so much is unknown, is a topic of perpetual interest.
Organized around individual paintings.