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Johannes Vermeer (October 1632 – December 1675) was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. During his lifetime, he was a moderately successful provincial genre painter, recognized in Delft and The Hague. Nonetheless, he produced relatively few paintings and evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death.

Vermeer remains primarily known for his genre scenes. These present, in a style that combines mystery and familiarity, formal perfection and poetic depth, interiors and scenes of domestic life, to represent a world more perfect than the one he could have witnessed. These mature works present a coherence which makes them immediately recognizable, and which is based in particular on inimitable color associations – with a predilection for natural ultramarine and yellow -, a great mastery of the treatment of light and space, and the combination of restricted elements, recurring from one painting to another.

niood lists the 10 Most Famous Artworks of Vermeer:

1. Girl with a Pearl Earring

Location: Mauritshuis
Period: Dutch Golden Age
Created: 1665

The painting is considered a tronie, a subcategory of portraiture that was popular in the Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque art. Tronies are studies of facial characteristics, stereotypical characters or exaggerated expressions. Vermeer captures a fleeting moment, the girl turning her head, her lips slightly parted while she directly faces the viewer. The girl wears a head wrap inspired by a Turkish turban and an enormous pearl earring. These exotic elements increase the drama of the painting, and give the artist the opportunity to display artistic effects in his treatment of light and texture. Another tronie by Vermeer, Study of A Young Woman (ca. 1665-1667) is often seen as a variant or counterpart of The Girl with a Pearl Earring. In both paintings, the figures are set against a black background, wearing the pearl earring and having a scarf draped over the shoulder. While The Girl with a Pearl Earring is an idealized beauty, the Study of A Young Woman shows plain and imperfect facial features.

1665 Girl with a Pearl Earring.jpg
By Johannes Vermeer –, Public Domain,

2. Diana and her Nymphs

Period: Dutch Golden Age
Location: Mauritshuis
Created: 1655–1656

The painting’s solemn mood is unusual for a scene depicting the goddess Diana, and the nymph washing the central figure’s feet has captured the attention of critics and historians, both for her activity and contemporary clothing. Rather than directly illustrating one of the dramatic moments in well-known episodes from myths about Diana, the scene shows a woman and her attendants quietly at her toilette. The theme of a woman in a private, reflective moment would grow stronger in Vermeer’s paintings as his career progressed.

Vermeer - Diana and Her Companions.jpg
By Johannes Vermeer – Mauritshuis, The Hague, Public Domain,

3. The Art of Painting

Year: 1666–1668
Movement: Baroque painting, Dutch Golden Age painting
Location: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

This illusionistic painting is one of Vermeer’s most famous. In 1868 Thoré-Bürger, known today for his rediscovery of the work of painter Johannes Vermeer, regarded this painting as his most interesting. Svetlana Alpers describes it as unique and ambitious; Walter Liedtke “as a virtuoso display of the artist’s power of invention and execution, staged in an imaginary version of his studio …” According to Albert Blankert: “No other painting so flawlessly integrates naturalistic technique, brightly illuminated space, and a complexly integrated composition.”

Jan Vermeer - The Art of Painting - Google Art Project.jpg
By Johannes Vermeer – lAHeqBoLaePtEA at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain,

4. The Music Lesson

Location: Royal Collection, London
Created: 1662–1665
Periods: Baroque, Dutch Golden Age

The Music LessonWoman Seated at a Virginal or A Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman by Johannes Vermeer is a painting of a young female pupil receiving a music lesson from a man. The man’s mouth is slightly agape giving the impression that he is singing along with the music that the young girl is playing. This suggests that there is a relationship between the two figures and the idea of love and music being bridged together. This was a common theme among Netherlandish art in this time period. Vermeer consistently used the same objects within his paintings such as the draped rug, the white water jug, various instruments, tiled floor and windows that convey light and shadows.

Johannes Vermeer - Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman, 'The Music Lesson' - Google Art Project.jpg
By Johannes Vermeer – CwFxCw3kUr-Lrw at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain,

5. The Little Street

Location: Rijksmuseum
Created: 1657–1658

The painting, showing a quiet street, depicts a typical aspect of the life in a Dutch Golden Age town. It is one of only three Vermeer paintings of views of Delft, the others being View of Delft and the now lost House Standing in Delft. This painting is considered to be an important work of the Dutch master.

Straight angles alternate with the triangle of the house and of the sky giving the composition a certain vitality. The walls, stones and brickwork are painted in a thicker paint layer, such that it makes them almost palpable.

Johannes Vermeer - Gezicht op huizen in Delft, bekend als 'Het straatje' - Google Art Project.jpg
By Johannes Vermeer – YAGJRuPz8yVuRQ at Google Arts & Culture, Public Domain,

6. View of Delft

Location: Mauritshuis
Year: 1660–1661
Periods: Dutch Golden Age, Baroque

Johannes Vermeer’s View of Delft is without a doubt the most celebrated cityscape in seventeenth-century Dutch art. It made an overpowering impression on art lovers from the outset. The play of sunlight and shadow, the cloudy sky from which light seems to radiate and the subtle reflections on the water all contributed to this impact. Vermeer depicted the city from the southeast, with the Kolk in the foreground, a triangular harbour at the southern limit of the city. On the right, behind us, the Schie canal leads in the direction of Rotterdam, Delfshaven and Schiedam. On the other side of the water lies the city. On the left we can see part of the city wall, and further to the right are the Schiedam and Rotterdam gates. Between them, the tower of the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) rises above the buildings. Nothing appears to be moving; all is serenity. The boats in the water are all moored, their sails lowered. The trees are full of leaves; the season must be late spring or summer, and it is morning, since the sun is in the east. Human life plays a subordinate role in the scene. Two groups of people are talking in the foreground, while a few figures are walking about the quayside in front of Schiedam Gate, almost too small to be discernible.

By Johannes Vermeer – : Home : Info : : Image, Public Domain,

7. Woman with a Water Jug

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Created: 1660–1662
Periods: Baroque, Dutch Golden Age

A young woman is found in the center of the picture. She is opening a window with her right hand, while she holds a water jug with her left hand. This jug rests on a larger platter. Both of these, among other objects, are upon on a table. This is decorated with a predominantly red rug of Asian origin.

This painting is one of a closely related group painted in the early to mid-1660s as the artist was not using linear perspective and geometric order, and the light was his only source of emphasis. The work suggests that Vermeer was aware that light is composed of colours, and the effect of colours on one another. For instance, the blue drape is reflected as dark blue on the side of the metallic pitcher, and the red fabric modifies the gold hue of the basin’s underside.

Jan Vermeer van Delft 019.jpg
By Johannes Vermeer – Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public Domain,

8. The Wine Glass

Period: Dutch Golden Age
Location: Gemäldegalerie
Created: 1658–1660

The concept of figures drinking around a table, and the portrayal of a woman drinking from a glass are taken directly from De Hooch’s A Dutch Courtyard. However, Vermeer’s work breaks away from the prototypes of De Hooch in that the interior is rendered in a far more elegant and higher-class setting than the older master’s works. The clothes of the figures, the patterned tablecloth, the gilded picture frame hanging on the back wall, and the coat of arms in the stained window glass all suggest a wealthier setting. The scene likely represents some type of courtship, but the roles being played by the two figures are not clear.

By Johannes Vermeer – XQEGuvWhwW_ybg at Google Arts & Culture, Public Domain,

9. The Astronomer

Location: Louvre Museum (since 1983)
Movement: Dutch Golden Age painting

The astronomer’s profession is shown by the celestial globe (version by Jodocus Hondius) and the book on the table, the 1621 edition of Adriaan Metius’s Institutiones Astronomicae Geographicae. Symbolically, the volume is open to Book III, a section advising the astronomer to seek “inspiration from God” and the painting on the wall shows the Finding of Moses—Moses may represent knowledge and science (“learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians”).

Johannes Vermeer - The Astronomer - WGA24685.jpg
By Johannes Vermeer – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain,

10. Girl with a Red Hat

Location: National Gallery of Art
Period: Dutch Golden Age
Created: 1665–1666

Girl with the Red Hat is one of Johannes Vermeer’s smallest works, and it is painted on panel rather than on his customary canvas. The girl has turned in her chair and interacts with the viewer through her direct gaze. Girl with the Red Hat is portrayed with unusual spontaneity and informality. The artist’s exquisite use of color is this painting’s most striking characteristic, for both its compositional and its psychological effects. Vermeer concentrated the two major colors in two distinct areas: a vibrant red for the hat and a sumptuous blue for the robe; he then used the intensity of the white cravat to unify the whole. It is seen as one of a number of Vermeer’s tronies – depictions of models fancifully dressed that were not (as far as is known) intended to be portraits of specific, identifiable subjects.

Vermeer - Girl with a Red Hat.JPG
By Johannes Vermeer – National Gallery of Art., Public Domain,