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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.