Seite 224 - ArtBook

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his familiaritywith seventeenth-centuryDutch genre painting. It should therefore
come as no surprise that Talbot defendedhis prints as ‘Rembrandt-ish’, revealing
his understanding of the calibration of light inDutchpainting,whichwas achieved
by the opening and closing of the shutters (both internally and externally) of the case-
ment windows common inDutchhouses of the time.Another seventeenth-century
artist, Johannes Vermeer – themaster
par excellence
at using thewindowas a device for
fixing the light inhis paintingswhile including it as an iconographical component –
remains under frequent scrutiny for his possible use of the camera obscura to achieve
photographic light effectswith lesser andmore focused elementswithinhis paintings.
Whether Vermeer used the camera obscura or not, his output remains extraordinary.
Out of the 34 surviving paintings that have been attributed to his name, only one uses
the landscape format (
Viewof Delft
, c.1660–61) while all others are in the portrait for-
mat.Their dimensions can be thought of as the frame throughwhich one perceives
the (usually domestic) scenery. Even the enigmatic
Little Street
(c.1657–58) – his only
viewof a house fromthe outside – follows the ubiquitous portrait format in vogue at
the time.Thesewindows into theworld often describe the human scalewithin rela-
tivelymodestly sized interiors.Whilewemay never be able to unravel all of the fine
layers of meaning in his domestic spaces, we can relate to the interiority and exteri-
ority, and the place of human inhabitation.Whether looking in or looking out, we
can relate to that simple opening in a building as the bringer of light, but we can also
stand back andmarvel at it as a device for perceiving theworld beyond.
RikNys,March 2013
v Johannes Vermeer
Briefschreiberin undDienstmagd / LadyWriting a Letter with herMaid