Jan (Johannes) Vermeer van Delft
* vor 1632 Delft vor 1675 Delft
Born the son of an innkeeper and art dealer, Jan Vermeer was baptized in Delft in 1632. He presumably developed under the influence of the Rembrandt student Carel Fabritius. In 1653 Vermeer became member of the Delft Guild of Saint Luke and became an independent painter. Since Vermeer rarely dated his signed works, the chronology of their origin is partly controversial. Among his earliest known works are "Diana and Her Companions" and "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary". The first dated painting is the large-sized work "The Procuress" from 1556, which, just like the oil painting "Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window" from 1558, was made under the influence of the artists of Utrecht Caravaggism. This work is the first with the reoccurring and variegated theme of a young woman in an upper class interior, who is entirely immersed in her activity and at the same time a portrait of female grace. The subtly nuanced observation of an ordinary scene, the balanced composition of his interiors that follow a clear geometry, the harmoniously executed light and the special choice of colors create the atmosphere of a still life. Around 1658 Vermeer made his only two landscapes, presumably by means of a Camera Obscura ("View of Delft" and "The Little Street "). The heyday of Vermeer‘s art is said to be around 1600 ("Girl with a Pearl Earring", "Girls Head", "Officer and Laughing Girl"). He soon made "Mistress and Maid". The work "Woman Holding a Balance" from 1662/63, just as the works "Allegory of Faith" and "Allegory of Painting" made towards the end of the decade, go far beyond mere illustration, they became subject to a complex interpretation. Vermeer‘s reputation as a painter increased, he became vice dean of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1662/63 and its president in 1670. The artist, who worked for a select circle of clients, was called to the court at The Hague by John Maurice, Prince of Nassau, as an art expert, in order to examine Italian paintings. Jan Vermeer, of whom not more than 40 works are known of, counts, along with Rembrandt and Franz Hals, among the most renowned artists of the "Golden Age" of Dutch painting.