Virtual Vermeer

I spent a lot of 2018 being angry: most of you know why – the ‘B’ word. While our rage motivated us to take action and become more politically engaged than we’ve ever been in our lives, we were also probably largely impotent to effect change.

So in 2019, I at least am going to look after myself a bit more. How about spending a bit of time with Vermeer, that supreme documenter of everyday life among the Dutch merchant classes of the seventeenth century? He takes us into comfortable homes, and shows us simple moments of domestic life: a woman playing the lute, a servant patiently pouring milk. He shows their faces, expressive and full of inner light and makes us wonder about them and their thoughts.  He makes the ordinary extraordinary.

Maid pouring milk: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

I’m revisiting Vermeer and his work thanks to an exhibition curated by the Mauritshuis.  No, I’ve not been to den Haag to visit this museum since about 1970.  But in a pioneering project with Google, it has brought together every surviving Vermeer painting for the first time and exhibited them on-line.

Here, I’ve been enjoying looking again at all his work.  I can examine any individual work in great detail, or consider recurrent themes that Vermeer returns to: paintings within the painting: musical instruments; maps…. I can read articles about his technique, his influence on pop art…. I can lose myself for as long as I wish in his world, and return as often as I want to.

Sadly, neither my computer nor my phone are as state-of-the-art as they could be to get the most out of all the features offered.  But I’m happy enough.  While I’m in the company of a young lady playing her virginal, observing a tired maid snatching a quiet moment’s sleep, a young woman making lace, or a reflective astronomer  I’m not engaged in twenty-first century life for a while.

And that’s all to the good.  Happy New Year!

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

31 thoughts on “Virtual Vermeer”

  1. This sounds like a potential (and advisable) New Year’s resolution – to look after ourselves a little bit more, and balance all the big ‘B’-type things and their equivalents by sustaining ourselves in small and enriching ways. What a lovely start with this online exhibition of Vermeer. Thank you.
    (Perhaps we need a kind of bloggers’ support group where an online art site, exhibition or artist to inspire us can be shared once a month or so, and somehow in such a way so as not to add to our already information-overload angst??)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a good idea. But maybe not post unless you have something you really want to share? Ot it might become ‘Oh my ears and whiskers, I need to find something. My turn to share…..’ ;). So much to stress about these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year, Margaret. That’s a wise thought.

    I’ve promised myself to spend more time reading Shakespeare this year, and less time scouring the news in hope of some good news.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These pictures really are amazing, thanks so much for the link. We also remain angry; we were out with the usual friends last night and were a whole 50 minutes into 2019 before anyone mentioned the B word and then the floodgates opened. Our European Movement branch is seeing our MP on Friday but none of us is hopeful of the outcome. Happy New Year to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Margaret; To you, yours, and especially your brave daughter ‘Fanny’ and her family my best wishes for a happy(ier), healthy(ier), content, serene, music- and art-filled, joyful and courageous New Year.
    I won’t even go and see your links as I must concentrate on what my eyes can master but I’m sure it’s well worth one’s time. I’m happy however to see that you’re finding other distractions than the cursed B word…. 🙂
    I shall go through some of your posts now, as it’s the first day of the New Year, and I have badly neglected visiting you. NOT out of a lack of interest, in the contrary – out of fear not to be giving you the time per post you merit…. And now I will wander through your blog-land, leisurely, with a glass of red wine next to me, the candles burning, the light-guirlandes shedding their festive glimmer…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, you can ignore my last comments, now that you explain all. I’m in favour of that glass of wine in a wonderfully cosy spot, but feel no obligation to plough through all ny past blogs – old news: Trump might even say fake news. My daughter and her family are doing well, thank you. I blame the (lovely) new man in her life.

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  5. Ah what a lovely beginning to 2019. Vermeer, a reminder that there is true beauty in our everyday existences, we just need to look for it. The positive, uplifting side of the Internet. Wishing you a calm 2019 whatever is coming our way.


  6. Isn’t this project amazing? I’ve been playing around with it, too–I could spend days there! And it is time much better spent, I think, than worrying about what the knuckleheads are going to do next . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for bringing it to your readers’ attention. I went to the site and bookmarked. We saw a few Vermeers in Amsterdam, but the gallery was so crowded that day we could not spend much time with any one of them, and as Alie was using a wheelchair at the time, it was hard for her to get a good view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Popular galleries can be a nightmare, especially if you have mobility difficulties. This site is a great substitute, though never as good as the real thing.


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