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Sunday, 11 September 2016



Pretty good, also, is Abrams' Caravaggio.


Don't know a book, but I highly recommend the documentary "Tim's Vermeer". An absolutely fascinating film.

I don't know from books on Vermeer, but I heartily recommend the documentary Tim's Vermeer. It was made by Penn and Teller about their friend Tim Jennison (inventor of many video devices, and all around polymath).

Tim heard Hockney's theory that Vermeer used a camera obscura to produce his perfect perspective paintings, and decided to determine if it was possible using the materials and knowledge available to Vermeer. So he (Tim) made a set, costumes, decorations, paints, brushes, lens, etc in order to test the hypothesis. Short, non-spoiler: He established it was possible.

I believe the movie is available on Netflix.


No illustrated book but illustrative videos. This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEior-0inxU is the one with tons of pictures stressing Vermeer's compositional methods and techniques. This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCQZnXz2Uss is probably not for the beginner but intermediary stage of interest. It is a very British thing, so maybe not up your alley, a "Rembrandt vs Vermeer" debate, with the most witty, eloquent and insightful Simon Schama arguing the Rembrandt case. Still you learn a lot about Vermeer from his part – and it's so much fun – and of course there is someone (utterly forgettable I'm afraid) who argues the Vermeer side, too.


Here's a good resource to find the best book for your specific interests.



Own: Vermeer: The Complete Paintings, by Walter Liedtke (Ludion Publ., 2008, ISBN 978-9055447428).
Informative; reproductions are hmm (but aren’t they always hmm?).

I bought my copy "in the ramsj", so I’m not sure if the title is still available.

A fascinating film: Tim's Vermeer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGMoVpjZuOY

Glad you are enjoying this. Ed Dolnick's next book due out this Spring is "Where Babies Come From". I understand it's an exploration of how humankind came to realize and understand the link between sex and babies. Should be interesting I think.

Hello Mike,

Vermeer: The Complete Works
by Arthur K. Wheelock

This is the first recommendation. You can find it on Amazon.com. If you find waiting for the book too long, there is the the marvelous website:

where you can find everything you ever wanted to know about Vermeer.

Kind regards

Not a book, but you might find the documentary "Tim's Vermeer" interesting.

Vermeer: The Complete Works

by Karl Schütz

Absolutely stunning.

Taschen has two books that both are very well printed. A large expensive one with the complete works and a small one from their budget series.


There have been so many books on Vermeer over the years...I certainly cannot claim to have seen them all..or even most. I did, however, take a look a Taschen's most recent volume Vermeer: The Complete Works and can say that it's gorgeous. It's certainly the one I'd buy if I was in the market.

Most of my own interests and studies into Vermeer have been from the direction of forgeries and valuations. This past spring I found The Man Who Made Vermeers, a treatise on master forger Han van Meegeren's arc...a fascinating read. It's a story much better known, and more interesting, than Vermeer's scant known biography.

For a guy who only produced a few dozen paintings in his life -- many of which are not in the public view -- Vermeer sure has gotten plenty of attention!

The movie Tim's Vermeer absolutely fascinated me.

It's about one obsessive man with money and time and a techie mind and his search to discover how Vermeer painted.

I ended up convinced that Vermeer was, in a sense, the world's first photographer.

As to a book, it shouldn't require more than one volume, as there are only 34 paintings attributed to him today. Not all that many pages, either, as not much is known about him. He fell from being slightly known during his lifetime into two centuries of obscurity after his death.

Watch the movie!!

Thanks for the book tip. It sound s likea good read. I just ordered it!

You can get a good used copy of The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer from Amazon, cheap, and if you buy it through the TOP website, even get a few pennies back. Illustrations are B&W only, but you say you like B&W. Much better, if you're comfortable reading the web, go here:


This comment may be somewhat OT, since I think you are seeking a retrospective view of all Vermeer's work. However, I found "Vermeer's Camera" by Professor Philip Steadman (Oxford University Press) to be a compelling read about how Johannes Vermeer may have used 17th century optics to create his amazingly precise perspectives. I say "may" because there is still some scholarly dispute about whether or not he used the camera obscura to compose his paintings, although Steadman's careful analysis is very convincing. It is "compulsively readable" as the London Times said, and especially so for a photographer wishing to master the subtleties of composition.

"Johannes Vermeer."
Trusties of the National Gallery or Art, Washington, 1995,
in conjunction with an exhibition.
ISBN 0-89468-219-9

Just as an aside you might want to catch "Tim's Vermeer" on DVD - available from Netflix. I think you'll enjoy it. An interesting look at how Vermeer might have worked.

This is not what you asked for. However, I will comment anyway. Have you seen the movie Tim's Vermeer? If not, I think you would be very interested in it. I saw it on a long flight a couple years ago and found it absolutely fascinating. A trailer can be found at http://sonyclassics.com/timsvermeer/

Not so much about Vermeer himself but I am currently reading Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches. A great study of the Dutch "Golden Age". I would think well worth adding to your pile.

I can recommend VERMEER by Martin Bailey, Phaidon Press, 1995, ISBN 9780714834634. After a short bio, it has good reproductions of most of his paintings, with a commentary on each one.

Reproducing Vermeer colours on paper is very difficult. I looked at many books and didn't find one that does a good job with most of the paintings.
It is best to travel to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and to the Mauritshuis in Den Haag (just an hour away from Amsterdam) to watch the paintings.
You will be surprised by the vivid luminous colours.
When in the Mauritshuis don't forget to look at Rembrandt's self portrait - one of the greatest works of art ever made. Rembrandt will look at you back from the painting and tell you many things . . .

I agree with Steven and Patrick about the Penn/Teller documentary "Tim's Vermeer." I just watched it three nights ago. Well done and fascinating. I got the disk from Netflix but my local library also has it.

If you are in NYC you see eight Vermeers. The Met has five and the Frick has three.

Not really about Vermeer, but Timothy Brook's Vermeer's Hat uses eight Vermeer paintings as a window into a surprisingly globalized 17th-century world. Brilliant, wide-ranging scholarship and a good read.

As noted above (National Gallery reference), Arthur Wheelock was one of the top Vermeer scholars, has several books out on Vermeer I think, and to sweeten the deal for you, Mike, former Washingtonian, he taught at UofMD. Fine man, was there when I got my MFA, sorry I wasn't able to take one of his courses.

My wife has a degree in art history (among others) and we have hundreds of art (and photography) books between us. The one Vermeer book I can find on our shelves is "Johannes Vermeer", published by the National Gallery of Art in 1995. ISBN 0-300-06558-2. And of course, just for fun, there's the movie "Girl With a Pearl Earring".

You might take a look at "Vermeer's Camera, Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpiece's" by Philip Steadman. I will loan you my copy if you'd like.

MASTERS of SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY DUTCH GENRE PAINTING(1984) is a big exhibition catalogue with Vermeer, many others and lots essays and references. About 5 lbs of fun. There's also MASTERS of 17th-CENTURY DUTCH LANDSCAPE PAINTING(1987). It's another exhibition catalogue in the series, but without a Vermeer even though he did do the admired View of Delft. Like the book above, this one is also big and chunky and has a lifetime of looking, reading and daydreaming inside.

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