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Johannes Vermeer

A Small Production of Great Beauty

Click on any of the items to see the original painting in large format
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Johannes (Jan) Vermeer, was a Dutch painter, a master in portraying interior scenes composed with mathematical clarity, much like colour photographs of our time. 

He was born in Delft, and after serving a 6-year apprenticeship was admitted in 1653 to the guild of St. Luke of Delft as a master painter. An important member of the guild, he served four terms on its board of governors.  He made a modest living as an art dealer rather than as a painter. 

The Netherlands 1996. Johannes Vermeer. Lady Witing a Letter with her Maid. The Netherlands 1996. Johannes Vermeer. The Love Letter. The Netherlands 1996. Johannes Vermeer. Lady Reading a Letter by the Window.

The above stamps are all part of the souvenir-sheet shown below.

The Netherlands 1996. Johannes Vermeer. Souvenir sheet. The Netherlands 1996. Johannes Vermeer. First Day Cover.

Forgotten after his death and not rediscovered until the late 19th century, his reputation steadily increased thereafter. Although he is today considered one of the greatest Dutch painters, I was really amazed when looking through the world issues of Vermeer-stamps, realizing that his native Holland has only issued three of his paintings on stamps. They were issued at the occasion of the Johannes Vermeer Exhibition in Mauritshuis Museum (The Hague, Holland) 4th March - 2nd June 1996, see the souvenir sheet and the FDC above and the three individual stamps.  

Please click on the souvenir sheet to see a larger version, and on the FDC to see a large version with full description of the painting "View of Delft".  
Tanzania 1996. Johannes Vermeer. Woman with a Water Jug. Sierra Leone 1996. Johannes Vermeer. A Girl Asleep. Sierra Leone 1996. Johannes Vermeer. A Woman with a Lute. Tanzania 1996. Johannes Vermeer. "Portrait of a Young Lady.

France 1982. Johannes Vermeer. The Lace Maker. Guyana 1993. Johannes Vermeer. The Astronomer. Aden-Kathiri 1967. Johannes Vermeer. Girl with Pearl Earring.

Rwanda 1975. Johannes Vermeer. The Milkmaid.

Sharjah 1968. Johannes Vermeer. The Guitar Player.

Only 35 of Vermeer's canvases have survived, of which 18 have been reproduced on stamps by 21 countries. Three of his paintings live at the Mauritshuis in The Hague ("Diana & Her Companions", "View of Delft", and "Girl with a Pearl Earring").

The museum was built 1633-1644 as a residence for Johan Maurits von Nassau, which was later transformed into present day's museum. 

Johannes Vermeer. Meter stamp from Mauritshuis.

The meter stamp shown here, dated 20th July 1966, "In the Light of Vermeer", was produced in connection with an art exhibition in 1966. 

  • Vermeer Meter Stamp "In The Light of Vermeer".

  • Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague. 

The other 32 paintings are distributed among 14 other cities, including 8 in New York, 4 in Amsterdam, 4 in London, and 3 in Washington DC.

Johannes Vermeer. Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague.

Their small number is the result of Vermeer's deliberate, methodical work habits, his relatively short life, and the disappearance of many of his paintings during the period of obscurity following his death in Delft on December 15, 1675. His life and work habits are thoroughly described in the novel by Tracy Chevalier "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (1999). 

Sources and links:

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Revised 24-jul-2006. Ann Mette Heindorff
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