- By Philip Steadman

Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces

  • Title: Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces
  • Author: Philip Steadman
  • ISBN: 9780192803023
  • Page: 181
  • Format: Paperback
  • Vermeer s Camera Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces Art historians have long speculated on how Vermeer achieved the uncanny mixture of detached precision compositional repose and perspective accuracy that have drawn many to describe his work as photo

    Art historians have long speculated on how Vermeer achieved the uncanny mixture of detached precision, compositional repose, and perspective accuracy that have drawn many to describe his work as photographic Indeed, many wonder if Vermeer employed a camera obscura, a primitive form of camera, to enhance his realistic effects In Vermeer s Camera, Philip Steadman traces tArt historians have long speculated on how Vermeer achieved the uncanny mixture of detached precision, compositional repose, and perspective accuracy that have drawn many to describe his work as photographic Indeed, many wonder if Vermeer employed a camera obscura, a primitive form of camera, to enhance his realistic effects In Vermeer s Camera, Philip Steadman traces the development of the camera obscura first described by Leonaro da Vinci weighs the arguments that scholars have made for and against Vermeer s use of the camera, and offers a fascinating examination of the paintings themselves and what they alone can tell us of Vermeer s technique Vermeer left no record of his method and indeed we know almost nothing of the man nor of how he worked But by a close and illuminating study of the paintings Steadman concludes that Vermeer did use the camera obscura and shows how the inherent defects in this primitive device enabled Vermeer to achieve some remarkable effects the slight blurring of image, the absence of sharp lines, the peculiar illusion not of closeness but of distance in the domestic scenes Steadman argues that the use of the camera also explains some previously unexplainable qualities of Vermeer s art, such as the absence of conventional drawing, the pattern of underpainting in areas of pure tone, the pervasive feeling of reticence that suffuses his canvases, and the almost magical sense that Vermeer is painting not objects but light itself.Drawing on a wealth of Vermeer research and displaying an extraordinary sensitivity to the subtleties of the work itself, Philip Steadman offers in Vermeer s Camera a fresh perspective on some of the most enchanting paintings ever created.

    1 thought on “Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces

    1. This is best considered a history book, though not a book about the history of its subject, Jan Vermeer, but rather a history about the creation of a book and a model and a BBC special by Philip Steadman about the works of Jan Vermeer. This book is an exquisitely detailed account of its author's approach to creating a model that proved to him Vermeer indeed used a camera obscura.One imagines the Family Steadman and a few close friends, some perhaps even drafted into helping create Steadman's mod [...]

    2. Definitely makes a convincing case for Vermeer's use of the camera obscura. Steadman summarizes the existing arguments for and against, and does some research involving the physical dimensions and layout of the rooms Vermeer painted. Then he tests his theories by building small models and full-scale models. It seems to me that Steadman's work should fit very nicely with the film Tim's Vermeer (which I have seen clips of, but haven't seen yet). I expect Tim's technique will fill the gaps that Ste [...]

    3. If you've ever felt humbled by the dutch master, read Vermeers Camera and you realise the gap isn't as unclosable as many would have you believe. His use of a lens to outline his paintings was smart and the mark of a perfectionist. Of course, filling in the lines like he does is another story altogether, but at least his superior perspectives are achievable by all willing to use the tools.

    4. This is a very academic book and I'd say the documentary Tim's Vermeer is more entertaining. But this is still approachable, and relatively short.

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