The dance of the Delft



 Art Delft Darkroom Light Oil Painting Vermeer View

It's a 96 cm by 115 cm painting, so what we see is an imperfect, but complete square, soberly framed. On a scale of Vermeer paintings, this is the biggest of his small paintings. One third Delft, two thirds sky. Yes, it's a window. It has been opened for 344 years.

Standing in front of it, the clarity's confirmation is the first impact. The colours are the second. But it's when the reading of the details ensues, and the memory starts identifying what it sees, that the world dances beneath our feet: here's a painting that the reproductions fail to show completely, that has to be, can only be, seen, a painting in front of which I would, if I could, stay in front of, for hours in a row, trying to understand it. The painting can't be mistaken for a photograph, thankfully: it is detailed, attentive, exhaustive in its description of reality, without ever betraying the perception of wonder. Its most realist detail has no shape or place in any map of Delft.

It is thought that Vermeer might have used a darkroom in the image's composition, that yes, it is likely. But the question I have always asked myself, while Vermeer didn't go beyond my browsing through books and the Internet (with the limitations that entails), is how his paintings could have as much, or more, light than the slides, which is so noticeable in the "View of Delft". The slides are illuminated objects, in fact. They are thin. They are transparent. They are made to shine. On the other hand, getting an opaque suface of a painting to represent the air and light, to the point where the light comes from the painting and lies on your skin, like the wideness and softness of daylight, and to be able to breathe in it, is extraordinary. I'd like to think that, like there are among musicians some with an absolute ear for music, there are/ were also some painters with an extraordinary photosensitive memory.

 Art Delft Darkroom Light Oil Painting Vermeer View

Here, the happy museum that keeps it and here, the most faithful reproduction I could find. Essentially, this painting is a living body and it demands us whole in front of it.

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