Vermeer by Lawrence Gowing

This is a classic study of an artist, first published 1970. Lawrence Gowing ( explores the ways in which Johannes Vermeer (Johannes Vermeer – Dutch Baroque, Genre Paintings, Delft | Britannica) was similar to and different from his contemporaries – especially Vermeer’s early struggles with genre scenes and his solutions (solitary women lost in their own worlds, little human interaction) and the unprecedented ways in which optics and light take primacy in his works rather than recognizability or visual continuity.

With a painter’s sensibilities, Gowing unpacks some of the allegory and symbolism in the work and identifies both recurrent motifs and shapes (the vertical, the bell, the buttress, often a curtain). The author’s prose is really enjoyable, and you’ll not find a better introduction (though there must be many) before enjoying the paintings themselves at a gallery or exhibition. ‘Christ in the House of Martha and Mary‘ hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland.

256 pages in Giles de la Mare Publisher

3rd revised edition 1997

ISBN  978-1900357098

Related image

Lawrence Gowing

Scroll to Top