IN HIS relatively short life — he died in 1675 at the age of 43 — Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer was unknown outside his native country and his name faded into obscurity after his death.
That changed in the mid-19th century, when his paintings of domestic interior scenes of middle-class life grew in popularity in Europe and, eventually, internationally.
Vermeer was not a prolific painter — only 34 canvases are directly attributed to him today — because he worked slowly and meticulously.
He was by no means wealthy and the pigments he used were expensive and this is possibly a reason why his works are few in number.
Almost all his paintings appear to be set in two rooms in his house and feature the same furniture and decorations and very often the same people, usually women.
Taschen publishers are noted for the quality of their art books and that is again in evidence in the newly and sumptuously produced Vermeer: The Complete Works (£25).
It draws on the complete catalogue of his output, with the images accompanied by a detailed and informative commentary.
The quality of the reproductions are such that Vermeer’s extraordinary representation of light shines through on every page and close-ups of selected canvases enhance one of the great pleasures of observing Vermeer’s work — constructing one’s own narrative about his subjects.
The book is a fitting tribute to a painter acknowledged as one of the greats of the Dutch “golden age.”
Win a copy of Vermeer: The Complete Works The Morning Star has a copy of Vermeer: The Complete Works to give away as a prize. All you have to do is name Vermeer’s birthplace and send your answer on a postcard to Vermeer Competition, 52 Beachy Road, London E3 2NS or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure you include your full name and address with your answer.