Thursday, 14 April 2016

L = Life of Vermeer, short biography

The website with the appropriate name "Essential Vermeer" is so wonderful, I could simply refer all these letters from A-Z to the pages of "Essential Vermeer" and you would be better and more completely informed than reading my pages. Really, in every letter if you look at the sources, you will find "Essential Vermeer" somewhere. A deep bow for those people that have made this possible.


One of the examples is a timeline of Vermeer's Life. Nobody lives his life in a bubble, and when there is so little known about someone like Vermeer you need to paint the background well as to the events that took place in that time. "Essential Vermeer" divides that timeline in:


Johannes Vermeer was born in Delft, Netherlands, circa October 31, 1632. His father Reijnier Janszoon and his mother Digna Baltens were middle-class innkeepers and prominent silk weavers in the city of Delft. His father later changed his surname to Vermeer for reasons unknown. Vermeer's father was a member of the Guild of St. Luke where he traded and sold various paintings. It was from this profession that a young Vermeer probably learned all about art.

Johannes Vermeer was the only son in the family and had just one sibling. He was raised Protestant in a largely conservative Catholic province and later became part of the Guild of St. Luke. He may have  apprenticed under Leonart Bramer but no evidence can conclude that he had an influence on Vermeer's works. Other names that might have been his teachers are Carel Fabritius or Abraham Bloemaert, but again, there is no evidence that he actually did get his education here.

Baptismal record of Johannes Vermeer
After his baptismal record at a local church, Vermeer seems to disappear for nearly 20 years. He likely had a Calvinist upbringing. His father worked as a tavern keeper. At the Market Square he owned an inn called "Mechelen". He was also an art merchant, and Vermeer inherited both of these business upon his father's death in 1652.

Baptismal record - detail

In April 1653, Vermeer married Catharina Bolnes, a wealthy Catholic woman from a higher class family. Upon marrying Catharina, Vermeer moved to the predominantly Catholic neighbourhood in Delft. He and Catherina had fifteen children together but four died at birth. None of the surviving eleven were known to inherit their father's skills.

Johannes Vermeer struggled financially in his final years, due in large part to the fact that the Dutch economy had suffered terribly after the country was invaded by France in 1672. Vermeer was deeply indebted by the time of his death; he died in Delft circa December 16, 1675.



  1. Even though he died deeply in debt, it sounds as if he did live a fairly comfortable life until the country was invaded. Wow...15 children in 22 years of marriage! Thanks for sharing, Han.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    1. I like to think that this comfortable life shows in his paintings as well.

      Thank you for your comment, Cat,

  2. Skills can jumpe over generations . It will be interesting to know if his Grand Grand Grand child . had some paintings skills.

    Mona Lisa

    1. I was looking around in Delft, but no painter by the name of Vermeer to be found...

      I hope some great grand child will have inherited some of Vermeers skills, though.

      Thank you for your comment, Mona Lisa,


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...