Johannes Vermeer

(Dutch, 1632–1675)


Johannes Vermeer

Apart from the account of Vermeer’s baptism in Delft in 1632, few known documents record his early life and none describe his artistic training, which has been the subject of much speculation. In 1653, he married Catharina Bolnes, who is believed to have served as a model for a number of his paintings. Later that year, Vermeer registered with Delft’s Guild of St. Luke as a master, indicating that he had by then completed the requisite six years of apprenticeship. Vermeer produced a small number of mythological and biblical scenes and cityscapes. He is most celebrated for genre scenes of women and men in domestic settings. Such imagery, popular in seventeenth-century Dutch art, was practiced by contemporaries like Pieter de Hooch, to whom a number of Vermeer’s paintings have been formerly attributed. Vermeer’s work commanded high prices, yet the expenses of his large family, his unsold inventory as a painter and art dealer, and the Dutch economic downturn of the 1670s appear to have depleted his resources to the extent that he died in debt at the age of forty-three. He was buried in the Oude Kerk (Old Church) of his native city. Today, only thirty-four paintings are generally accepted to be by Vermeer’s hand, of which three are in The Frick Collection. 


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  • man and a woman seated in front of window

    What We Look at When We Look at a Vermeer

    On the occasion of the return of The Frick Collection’s three paintings by Johannes Vermeer to their display at Frick Madison, Christopher Snow Hopkins, Associate Editor, reflects on the experience of viewing the canvases in the Rijksmuseum’s monumental Vermeer exhibition this year.
  • three paintings with a focus crop on women

    Return of the Vermeers: New Insights on Three Masterworks

    Freshly reinstalled at Frick Madison after their presentation in the Rijksmuseum’s landmark Vermeer exhibition, The Frick Collection’s three canvases by the “Sphinx of Delft” have divulged a few more secrets from their layered histories.
  • Stack of eight books about Vermeer on a white shelf

    Reading List: New Perspectives on Vermeer

    The following reading list features books and a website—each published within the last two decades—with novel theories and interpretations of Vermeer’s work.

See All Works of Vermeer

Explore more of Vermeer's completed paintings. Google Arts and Culture unites thirty-six Vermeer canvases from eighteen museums around the world.


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