Johannes Vermeer: Introduction (01:58)
After an 80-year war with Spain ended, a period of prosperity grew in the United Provinces. Johannes Vermeer lived and painted in Delft, a small town between Hague and Rotterdam. After converting to Catholicism, he married his wife and sired 11 children.
"The Astronomer" (04:59)
This is the first painting that Vermeer chose to depict a man alone. A celestial globe, a Moses' reference, the angle of the hand, and the book on the table contain significant clues to learning the name of the cosmographer depicted.
Reign of the Sun King (04:11)
The Dutch East India Company (VOC) became one of the most powerful shipping companies because the United Provinces established a federation instead of a monarchy. French Huguenots were expelled from the courts of Louis XIV; La Fontaine wrote "The Astrologer who Tumbled into the Well." Astronomy proponents financed activities by practicing astrology.
Catering to the Middle Class (04:47)
Signs that "The Astronomer" is an astrologer include the absence of a telescope and signs of the zodiac. Vermeer's father chose to call himself Vos and Vandermeer at different times during his life. Paintings during this time period concentrated on moments of daily life; popular purchases in Delft included Jodocus Hondius' globes and Frederik de Wit's maps.
Streets of Delft (02:31)
Processions occurred daily and citizens performed the "egg dance" to mark their drunkenness. Despite siring 11 children, Vermeer's canvases exude serenity. Learn how artists fixed perspective issues caused by the Camera Obscura.
Who Is the Man? (06:38)
Critics debate whether the figure in "The Astronomer" is a mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, astrologer, or all the above. Rene Descartes settled in the United Provinces and wrote "Discourse of the method." Learn the historical significance of Baruch Spinoza and Antoine van Leeuwenhoek.
Credits: Vermeer: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings (00:38)
Credits: Vermeer: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings
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