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Why do people love Vermeer so much? It could be just my luck that I have happened to stumble upon his work one way or the other over the last five years, which I don’t mind at all. For instance, if you haven’t read Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier or Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, head over to your local library and check them out. They’re both amazing! (Especially the one by Vreeland… psst! It’s an art detective story! Cool right?) Anyway, I’m just saying that Johannes Vermeer van Delft seems to be one of those painters people in general know of and like to talk about, like Leonardo DaVinci or Pablo Picasso.

I used to think 'Girl in Hyacinth Blue' was based on this painting. Turns out Vreeland made up the painting (the center piece of the story), but the historical background is still relevant and it's still a great book.

“Woman in Blue Reading a Letter”: I used to think ‘Girl in Hyacinth Blue’ was based on this painting. Turns out Vreeland made up the painting (the center piece of the story), but the historical background is still relevant and it’s still a great book.

I’m far from an expert on art – took some classes in high school, talked about art history in European lit. during (college) sophomore year – but I think I have the right to say I’m a Vermeer fan. Who wouldn’t love his work anyway? The scenes he painted were so ordinary yet extraordinarily beautiful. He managed capture such small moments that fit in with people’s daily lives and added a sense of awe to it. His strokes were precise to the point, the shades, the light… the definition of perfection. I can see why he was a slow worker, having to rely on people to perform a task the same way, exactly the same way, over and over, and not to mention the sunlight. He had to place his subjects at the right place at the right time of the day, and he did this for months. That’s dedication, man.

This poem speaks to the awesomeness that remains with Vermeer’s paintings. I think people find them even more interesting today since they’re portraying a world that pretty much doesn’t exist anymore.

 

vermeer

by Howard Nemerov

Taking what is, and seeing it as it is,
Pretending to no heroic stances or gestures,
Keeping it simple, being in love with light
And the marvelous things that light is able to do,
How beautiful! a modesty which is
Seductive extremely, the care for daily things.

At one for once with sunlight falling through
A leaded window, the holy mathematic
Plays out the cat's cradle of relation
Endlessly; even the inexorable
Domesticates itself and becomes charm.

If I could say to you, and make it stick,
A girl in a red hat, a woman in blue
Reading a letter, a lady weighing gold...
If I could sat this to you so you saw,
And knew, and agreed that this was how it was
In a lost city across the sea of years,
I think we should be for one moment happy
In the great reckoning of those little rooms
Where the weight of life has been lifted and made light,
Or standing invisible on the shore opposed,
Watching the water in the foreground dream
Reflectively, taking a view of Delft
As it was, under a wide and darkening sky.

**

Hope you enjoyed it. Check out Vreeland’s or Chevalier’s book. I pray you!

Girl in Hyacinth Blue (book cover).

Girl in Hyacinth Blue (the “fake” painting).

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