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Delft is a city where the citizens seemed to know what they wanted about 800 years ago, built it and have kept it in order ever since.
It was a clear September day and the first leaves of autumn floated down. Amongst the auburn leaves, I peacefully strolled around the cobbled streets – all lined with two storied brick buildings and sometimes a canal between the rows of houses. There were no secrets behind these doors and curtains. Many of the large windows gladly presented their rooms, their lives.
Here, someone left a magazine on the sofa and close by the plants someone else left their tricycle and drawing pad.
Over there, the bedroom has been made, carefully.
Up there, on the second floor, a girl opens the window to let in some fresh air and to allow the room to flood with light. The curtain bulges slightly with the breeze as she sits down by the computer – no doubt expecting news as she checks her inbox.
A wealthy city
Delft’s proud son: Vermeer
A prodigal son
Although we know little about him, we can deduce traits about him from the work he produced. He deliberately left clues in his work. Cryptically spilling out his thoughts and dreams.
He always returned to certain themes.
Surrounded by wealth and prosper, something moved him. Rich merchants bringing goods: silk, turkish carpets, bone china, spices and stories of beasts, savages and foreign women. An age of discovery and adventure but equally an age of raised temptation, gluttony, envy and sin.
The natural dyes in the carpets from Persia must have fascinated him. The strong, natural colours of deep earthy reds and oranges mixed with blacks and off whites in geometric patterns – light on light. He must have stared at them for hours, losing himself in colour, caressing each coloured knot with his sharp vision and his soft finger tips.
How those colours shimmer. How those two colours, juxtapose, clash or join – how they wobble and vibrate – complementing eachother, making each colour brighter and purer.
The pure light shining on the vibrant ultra marine blue silk scarves. Reflecting the light from heaven in a stark spectrum of radiant blues, shadows and sparkles.
The ultra marine (Latin, literally: from over seas) from Afghanistan no less, like a soft jewel of solidified cosmic light, ground down into a thick paste smeared onto canvass.
Colour is purity. By depicting colour in it’s purest form, Vermeer was depicting purity – something which he perhaps desired.
A recurring theme:
Light flooding a room. The pure light from above! The room – the subconsciousness and the body – deep, dark and innocent. In the painting: the figure representing the active consciousness and the alive mind; acting and responding to the events.
The event: the anticipation of news. The split second moment between receiving the news but before the reaction. A fleeting moment in time. But an eternity when experienced.
Vermeer was expecting something for that eternity.
Note that for the medieval mind, the concept of hell was being attached forever to that which you could not let go of.