14 December 2022, 14:10

Geographic maps on the canvases of Jan Vermeer

Geographic maps on the canvases of Jan Vermeer
Dutch artist Jan Vermeer is recognized as one of the best masters who lived during the Golden Age of Dutch painting (XVII century). Glory came to him during his lifetime: a lot of money was paid for the paintings, among the rich there were patrons who became the patrons of the artist. Vermeer painted portraits, landscapes, but most of the works are carefully crafted compositions with interiors. In several pictures you can see the image of geographical maps, and we will stop on them.

"Allegory of Painting" - a work that Vermeer loved so much that he hung it in his own workshop and refused to anyone who wanted to buy a canvas. The author depicted a scene popular at that time: the artist paints a portrait of a model. The artist's ceremonial attire and the surroundings add solemn notes to the everyday event. In the background we see a geographical map, its prototype was probably the "New Map of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands" by Claes Vischer. According to one version, this fragment of the composition symbolizes the glory that painting brought to the Netherlands.
In 1655–1660 the master painted the picture "The Officer and the Laughing Girl". The composition is typical of Vermeer: there are also two characters, on the left is a window - a source of light. Looking at the girl, one can find a resemblance to Vermeer's wife, who often posed for the artist. Again there is a map on the wall: the outlines of Holland and West Friesland are visible on it. This map of Balthazar Floris van Berkenrod can be seen on other canvases by Vermeer. Its original has not been preserved, but reprints are known and such references in works of art.
In the third painting, entitled "Woman Reading a Letter", we again see a fragment of van Berkenrod's map. Unlike the previous multi-color fragment, here is a one-color version. Researchers of Vermeer's work believe that the woman is holding a letter from her husband, the traveler, who owns the map. According to another version, the message was sent by a lover, and with it a gift - a barely noticeable box with pearls.
The painting "Geographer" is dedicated to a researcher immersed in work. This is another confirmation that Vermeer was interested in geography. In the corner on the right, only a small piece of the map is visible, but the globe attracts attention. Possibly the work of the Flemish atlas publisher Jodoc Hondius. Since the Earth's globe is paired with the stellar globe depicted in the "Astronomer" painting, both works could be displayed together.

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