Google Doodle celebrates the forgotten Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer

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Selected works by Johannes Vermeer, master in the use of light and shadow.

Google

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter of the Baroque period famous for capturing tranquil scenes of daily life in domestic interiors in exquisite detail. He is particularly renowned for the strong contrasts created by his delicate use of light and shadow, as well as for his correctly perspective paintings.

Although only 35 of his paintings have survived, Vermeer is considered to be one of the greatest artists of the Dutch Golden Age. To celebrate his talent, Google dedicated a Doodle to Vermeer on Friday, the 26th anniversary of the opening of an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC featuring 21 of his works.

Vermeer was born in Delft, Holland in 1632, but little is known about Vermeer’s life, as none of his personal writings have ever been found. Despite moderate success as a painter, Vermeer died at the age of 43, leaving his wife in debt. Perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings, Vermeer was largely forgotten by the art world for nearly two centuries before being rediscovered in the late 19th century.

The one work he is perhaps best known for is the 1665 oil painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, which has made several literary and film appearances in recent years, including a 1999 historical novel of the same name which chronicled a fictional story about the creation of the painting.

The Friday doodle depicts three of Vermeer’s other noteworthy paintings as being displayed side by side in a museum. On the left is The Art of Painting (also known as The Allegory of Painting), an oil on canvas made between 1666 and 1668 that shows an artist portraying a woman posing for a portrait in her studio.

In the center is Lady Writing a Letter to Her Waitress, a 1670-1671 creation showing a woman sitting at a table composing a letter while her waitress is standing behind her, looking out a window as she wait for the letter to be completed.

Finally, on the right, is Girl Reading a Letter at the Open Window, a painting of considerable intrigue completed around 1657-59. The painting was mistakenly attributed to other artists for many years before Vermeer was identified as the artist in 1880.

Decades after Vermeer’s death, the painting was altered to obscure the image of a large cupid hanging on the wall behind the girl. The overpainted image of Cupid was first identified by X-rays in 1979, and while the Google version shows the altered version, the god of love was restored onto the painting in 2021 after a three-year restoration effort. .

With Cupid watching over the girl again, it is suggested that a romance exists with the author of the letter.

But if you look closely, you’ll see that Google has put two letters from his name into each of Vermeer’s paintings.

You can explore more of Vermeer’s art through Google art and culture project.

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