The Golden Age – The New Everyday Life Through the Eyes of Vermeer
While the Baroque period was sweeping a wave of extravagance across the regions of Europe shaped by the church and feudalism, another, more down-to-earth style was emerging in the Netherlands. It was inspired by the everyday lives of a growing middle class, who had achieved prosperity in the young, tolerant, cosmopolitan republic with its flourishing trade. Their longing for images to be captured of their own successful lives led to an unprecedented demand for art, with hundreds of painters churning out genre paintings, portraits, still lives and other types of artwork in quick succession. Among the artists of this time was Anders Jan Vermeer. Only 37 paintings are known to have been produced by his hand, but most of them are absolute masterpieces. His secret lies in his subjects’ graceful stances and, even more importantly, in his special use of light. Vermeer’s painting technique was truly revolutionary. Even his contemporaries marveled at the interplay between light and shadow, his works full of tiny reflections making them reminiscent of photographs. To this very day, researchers have been left puzzled by his unusual technique and are still trying to work out whether he used any technical means to learn to see motifs in a new way. And if so, which tools he had at his fingertips.