Vermeer and Maps

I remember mumbling to myself as I walked in to write my Art History 102 final, "Peter's the guy with the keys. Peter's the guy with the keys." If pressed, I can usually figure out why someone wrote that book at that time and what's going on in it. I'm more at a loss when it comes to paintings and I'm always in awe of those who can pull apart all the little details and broad historical trends, then explain them to me.1

EssentialVermeer.com truly does show "what an online catalogue of paintings can do." Created by Jonathan Janson, the site lists and links each of Vermeer's attributed works to relevant articles and sidebars. Of the 37 works listed, 9½ include maps or globes:

1 Officer and laughing girl,                  ca. 1657-60, Frick Collection, New York;

2 Woman in blue reading a letter,       ca. 1662-64, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam;

3 Young woman with a water jug,       ca. 1662, Metropolitan Museum, New York;

4 A lady with a lute,                           ca. 1663, Metropolitan Museum, New York;

5 The art of painting,                         ca. 1667, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna;

6 The love letter,                              ca. 1670, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

7 The Astronomer,                            1668, Musée du Louvre;

8 The Geographer,                            ca. 1668-9, Staedelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt a/M;

9 The allegory of faith,                      ca. 1669-1670, Metropolitan Museum, New York.

½ Woman with a pearl necklace,        ca. 1664, now at the Gemaeldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin) Vermeer originally included a wall map behind the woman, but removed it before finishing the piece.

Rollover the maps for more info and be sure to check the Special Topics and Related Works links.

 Further reading:

* Alpers, Svetlana. "The Mapping Impulse in Dutch Art." in Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays. David Woodward, ed. (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1987) p. 51 - 96.

* Livieratos, Evangelos and Alexandra Koussoulakou "Vermeer's maps: a new digital look in an old master's mirror." e-Perimetron. Vol.1, No. 2, (Spring, 2006): 138-154.

* Welu, James A. "Vermeer's Astronomer: Observations on an Open Book." Art Bulletin 68 (June, 1986): 263-26
* _____. "The Map in Vermeer's Art of Painting." Imago Mundi 30, 2nd series, 4: 9 - 30
* _____. "Vermeer and Cartography", Ph.D. diss., Boston University. 1977
* _____. "Vermeer: His Cartographic Sources." Art Bulletin 57 (Dec., 1975): 529-547


1See, for example, Chapter 5 of Julian Barnes', A History of the World in 10½ Chapters, or The Guardian essay on Vermeer's, View of Delft.