Artist. He was considered one of the best painters of the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. Today, he is listed along side the master Rembrandt and in some art circles above him. He was also known as Jan Vermeer or Johannes van der Meer. The exact date of his birth is unknown as much of his life has been lost to history, but he was baptized on October 31, 1632 in the Reformed Church of Delft. His father, Reynier Vos, was a silk weaver and art dealer, who later used the name van der Meer, and his Belgium mother, Digna. Reynier, operated an inn called "Mechelen" in Delft. Presumably he was introduced to art as a child from his father's dealings. Johannes inherited the inn with an art gallery upon his father's death in 1652. Converting to Catholicism, he married a Catholic young lady, Catherina Bolnes, in April of 1653, and the couple had a total of 14 children, three of whom predeceased their father. It is not known exactly when Vermeer began his apprenticeship as a painter or who taught him, but it is thought to have been either Carel Fabritus or Leonaert Bramer. In December of 1653, he became a member of St. Luke's Guild, a trade association for painters. He was elected head of the guild in 1662, and again in 1663, 1670, and 1671. His work though not prodigious by the standards of the day, was admired for its transparent colors, careful composition, and brilliant use of light. Although his subject matter and composition was very similar to that of contemporaries like Pieter de Hooch, he achieved a timeless quality in his work that placed it on a level all its own. It is estimated that he produced about fifty paintings with 36 surviving to modern day. He was slow in his work, he produced a few paintings and used expensive paints of blue and yellow, hence he died penniless leaving a widow with children in debt. His pieces were forgotten after his early death until rediscovered in the mid-19th Century by the French writer and art critic Etienne Joseph Theophile Thore, or his alias Thore-Burger. With Thore's publicity, his place in the art world has been elevated. A list of Vermeer's pieces was published by Thore, yet many on that list were later proven to be done by other artists, who were mainly students mimicking Vermmeer's work. His most recognized painting is "Girl With a Pearl Earring," which was done about 1665 In 2003, a film, "Girl With a Pearl Earring" was released with British actor Colin Firth in the role Vermeer and actress Scarlett Johnansson as the girl with the earring. The film was adapted from a 1999 historical novel with the same name.
Bio by: Linda Davis