Twenty assorted 5 x 7 in. blank notecards (5 each of 4 designs) with envelopes in a decorative box.
Published with the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675) was born in the thriving city of Delft and lived there all his life. The circumstances of his art training are unclear. In 1641 his father, a prosperous weaver and art dealer, purchased a large house with an inn. Vermeer inherited the inn and the art business when his father died in 1652. In 1653, at the age of twenty-one, he registered as a master painter in Saint Luke’s Guild.
Unlike Utrecht and Amsterdam, where Vermeer may have studied, Delft was not noted as an artistic center. An important artist in the city in the 1650s was Leonaert Bramer, who painted small-scale biblical or mythological subjects. Perhaps because of Bramer’s influence (he may even have trained with him), Vermeer began his career as a history painter, though on a large scale. Carel Fabritius was another important artist in Delft. His scenes of everyday life and inventive use of perspective apparently had a profound effect on Vermeer in the images for which he became famous: genre scenes, cityscapes, and allegories.
By the 1650s Delft’s artistic character was changing. Architectural painters rendered dynamic, light-filled images of church interiors, and Vermeer adapted his subject matter to include cityscapes. The genre painters Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch, a Dordrecht artist who cosigned a document with Vermeer in 1653, apparently influenced Vermeer’s stylistic and thematic development during this period.
Vermeer became renowned within Delft, twice serving as head of Saint Luke’s Guild. It appears that almost two-thirds of his thirty-five extant paintings were owned by a patron who had a special relationship with the artist, although no supporting documentation exists. When French troops invaded Holland in 1672, Vermeer’s fortunes deteriorated as his art business suffered. Vermeer died in 1675, leaving a wife, eleven children—eight were minors—and enormous debts.
Contains five each of the following notecards:
Girl with Red Hat, 1665/1666
A Lady Writing, 1665
Girl with a Flute, probably 1665/1670
Woman Holding a Balance, c. 1664