Item description for Vermeer by Christopher Wright...
Vermeer of Delft, one of the sublime Dutch artists of the seventeenth century, was locally respected but his reputation did not spread beyond his native Delft. In 1866, some two hundred years after Vermeer's death, at the age of only 42, the French writer Thophile Thor published two series of articles which belatedly brought the artist to the world's attention, and rescued him from obscurity. In this illuminating study, Christopher Wright proposes a deeper interpretation of his early life and work finding that, before producing his now renowned paintings, Vermeer copied, and even altered, the Dutch and Italian Masters to suit local tastes. This book is a major contribution to the understanding and appreciation of Vermeer as it illustrates, often with details, all his known work. Particular emphasis is given to the major masterpieces such as his View of Delft and the Head of a Girl with a Pearl Earring, which has become one of the old master icons of modern times.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 11.3" Width: 9.4" Height: 0.8" Weight: 2.2 lbs.
Release Date Oct 20, 2005
Publisher Chaucer Press
ISBN 1904449379 ISBN13 9781904449379
Availability 0 units.
More About Christopher Wright
Arnd Schneider is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.
Christopher Wright has an academic affiliation as follows - London School of Economics UK University of Sydney University of Sydne.
Christopher Wright is notable today because he was, in 1976, the year this volume first appeared, one of the few expert commentators to list the fugitive Lady at the Virginals as an authentic Vermeer. Although most art historians for much of the first half of the twentieth century had also placed this work in Vermeer's canon, few did so after the infamous Han van Meegeren Vermeer forgeries were brought to light after 1948; the painting seemed too sodden for Vermeer's atmospheric conjuries. But after considerable forensis analysis, and a marvelous cleaning and restoration, the painting has recently been authenticated as an autograph Vermeer, seemingly validating Wright's artistic sensibility. However, the weight of Wright's scholarship in this second edition suggests that sensibility remains generally far off the mark.
Wright's Vermeer is rife with too many bad reproductions, casually sloppy errors, and outright loopy attributions. The book merits two stars because of a good cover portrayal of The Girl with a Pearl Earring, a helpful Catalog of Vermeer Paintings, which lists the provenance, literature, and exhibition history of each work, and a brief commentary about and a so-so reproduction of A Lady at the Virginals, the first contemporary book on Vermeer to do so. Otherwise, there is little to applaud and much to condemn.
Take, for example, Wright's off the wall suggestion that Vermeer actually painted over an original Hendrich ter Brugghen work, Athenais Banished by Her Husband, in order, early in his career, to pass the painting off as his own. Moreover, based upon the the risky premise that a painting called St. Praxedis was by Vermeer, Wright blithely but ridiculously maintains that two other religiously-themed works, Christ Healing the Blind Man and The Magdelene at the Foot of the Cross, belong to Vermeer. No matter that new (in 1999) information about Vermeer's early work, Diana and her Companions, has essentially disqualified St. Praxedis from being attributed to Vermeer. No matter virtually no stylistic links exist between Vermeer's other early work, Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, one of only two paintings with an expressly religious theme in Vermeer's oeuvre, and the paintings cited by Wright. It is as if Wright needed to confirm his thesis that the young Vermeer was a devote of Italianate art and artistic influences, while also infused with religious ferver--and manufactured evidence in support of this thesis. No other serious Vermeer scholar has ever published such errant nonsense.
Then consider just a few of the author's many outright gaffes. He states that, although Vermeer was born in 1632, the artist registered as a painter in the Delft Guild at the age of twenty-three in 1653; in actuality, Vermeer had just turned twenty-one. Wright also describes the beautiful curtain draped over the foreground of Vermeer's signature works, The Art of Painting, as appearing "only in his last pictures." In fact, Vermeer used the device very dramatically in one of his early paintings, Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, which Wright himself took pains to point out.
Those who want genuinely responsible scholarship about Johannes Vermeer should consult Walter Liedtke's magisterial 200l Vermeer and the Delft School; Arthur Wheelock's 1995 Vermeer and the Art of Painting; and John Michael Montias' formidable Vermeer and His Milieu. For those who want more information about the St. Praxedis misattribution, read Liedtke's A View of Delft: Vermeer and His Contemporaries.