Geographer, Jan Vermeer – a description of the picture

Geographer, Jan Vermeer – a description of the picture
Geographer, Jan Vermeer - a description of the picture - 1

  • Posted by Jan Vermeer
  • Museum: Stedel Art Institute
  • Year: 1668-1669

Description of the picture :

Geographer – Jan Vermeer. Oil on canvas. 53 x 46 cm

   The 17th century is a period of sailors, geographical discoveries, the formation of new sciences. Many artists portrayed scientists in their work. The painting by Jan Vermeer “Geographer” is also dedicated to that active time.

   At the same time, no doubt, the author feels interest and understanding of this topic. See how carefully, accurately and in detail the globe, maps and cartographic tools are drawn – a compass and a corner designed to determine the angle of standing of the planets.

   Before us is a young man leaning over papers with a circular in his hand. His appearance is deeply thoughtful, and we can safely assume that a person is busy with scientific research. The fact that he is a scientist, and is engaged in such a scientific field as geography, says the interior of the room and all this is reflected in the surrounding objects.

   In the corner on the closet are books and a globe. It is interesting that after a thorough study of the canvas, art historians determined that the globe was turned to the audience by the Indian Ocean, in which the East India Company, created by Dutch merchants, was the leading trade monopolist at that time.

   On the wall is a detailed geographical map. Moreover, researchers of Vermeer’s work claim that this is a map of Europe. On the floor are abandoned rolls with drawings.

   The pouring light from the window illuminates the figure of the scientist. He has an oriental robe. At the time of Vermeer, such an exotic type of clothing was accepted specifically in people of science. And, of course, the author could not do without his favorite blue color – he stands out both on the clothes of a man and on the patterns of tablecloths.

   The look of the scientist, pitiful and fixed in the distance, implies the moment of the highest tension of thought, another moment and some solution will be found, or maybe even the discovery of something new, hitherto unknown to science, will happen.

   The picture is not at all static, since to give the dynamics to the plot, the author uses the effect of a blurry image of the face of the main character. It seems that the artist captured exactly the moment when the scientist turns his face and look towards the window.

   It is known that Jan Vermeer was rather careless in identifying his paintings, often did not put his autograph on them and the date of creation. But the work of the “Geographer” was signed by the author, and not only in the most prominent place – on the wall, but also on the cabinet door. Why? Unknown. It can be especially thorough execution and a reverent attitude to science? As always, the great Vermeer left us a riddle.