Along with Frans Hal and Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer is one of the most beloved, and well known Dutch painters; although he was not that well known during his time, during the 19th century, he became one of the better
known artists of his time. The main reason which he became more widely known, is due to the work he did, producing a small number of pictures (about 45), which were produced for a small group of patrons in Delft. During
his time, the work which Jan Vermeer created, was purchased by a small number of collectors; his work was known in Delft, Hague, and a few smaller neighboring regions, but did not get much coverage outside of these areas
early on. Additionally, the instructor he worked with was not well known, and he had few peers, making him even more of an obscure figure in the art world.
Jan Vermeer's father worked as an art dealer, which possibly had an influence on his choice to work as an artist, and follow this medium. Th works which he collected, allowed Jan Vermeer to realize the distinct differences in time pieces, and styles of art, which allowed him to find different focal points for his own art work. In 1652, his father's debt and death, did not leave much in line for Vermeer; this is possibly the reason he taught h imself, and was not able to attend an illustrious school, for professional training in the arts.
After his father's death, in 1653, Jan Vermeer married the daughter of a wealthy, Catholic divorcee, and converted to their religious beliefs. At this time he also made the move to Delft with the family. Although he had
a short career (died at 43), Jan Vermeer's works sold for extremely high prices during the time, allowing him to support his wife, and eleven children that the couple had together.
With many of the earlier works that Jan Vermeer created, he followed the style of a number of 17th century artists. With a number of styles, he was able to create several pieces which would be exhibited in various cities. As he progressed as an artist, his mature style, and interest in naturalistic effects, became more apparent in the pieces which Jan Vermeer created as time progressed. Much of the work he depicted and the domestic subjects he created, were found in Delft and South Holland areas which he would frequent.
As he progressed as an artist, the work which Jan Vermeer created, seemed to take focus on many changes. He was preoccupied with the behavior of light while creating, and the optical effects which were often seen in many of his works. His interest in camera obscura (which projects actual images) probably were the reasons he had this interest in lighting and the effects it had on his work. The use of color and light were quite apparent, and even exaggerated, in many of the pieces that he created as his work progressed over time. Additionally, his attention to detail, and application of paint, showcases the attention to detail and care that Jan Vermeer had for his work, and getting the features accurate in the works he designed.
Much of the work which Jan Vermeer created, were taken from the domesticated world. Many of the pieces were those of the female form, and he paid close attention to their posture, and behavior, many which he depicted in a sympathetic manner. In many of the pieces he designed, where women were the focal figure in his work, he attempted to create a connection between the design and the viewer, with the emotion, and characteristics that were present in the design, and the surrounding features of his art work.
The piece which Jan Vermeer created in 1657, A Girl Asleep, is possibly the first image which he created, focusing on a modern world, and took a different approach in style and design. With progression in form, and several images which followed this pattern, Jan Vermeer developed his mature style; this style took a central focus on the connection between observation and arbitrary design, which he focused on for the remainder of his career in the art world.
Most of the pieces that Jan Vermeer created, focused on interior design, and the interior focus of the viewer. However, later on in his career, he did create a few piece that took an opposite approach to this style. A View of Delft, the Little Street, and Allegory of Faith, were a few pieces which he depicted the exterior world, and how he viewed it, as opposed to taking the interior approach, and a central focus on connecting the viewer, to the art forms which he would depict in most of his interior design works.
Much of the work which Jan Vermeer created, including Girl with a Pearl Earring, seemed to be self portrait pieces, due to the intricate detail, and attention to design which the artist took in the composition. Many of these faces which he depicted in this manner, and the sculptures which he created, became more of collector pieces, . This was namely due to the fact that he took quite a focus on the detail in design, and paid attention to detail with these models, which included characters who wore curious costumes, and had a creative focus to the design pieces which they were presented.
Although he was not formally trained, and although he was not a well known artist during his time, from the 19th century forward, Jan Vermeer has been one of the most well known and highly celebrated Dutch artists. Not only have many of his pieces been seen in exhibits, most of his works have become highly priced collector items. And, although many of his works did sell for high price tags during his life, following his death, many of these pieces increased in price, as do the works of most artists following their death.