In addition to being the city of Delft Blue, Delft is also the city of the world-famous painter Johannes Vermeer. Delft is Vermeer’s birthplace and the master-painter grew up in the city. Vermeer also painted his famous paintings in Delft. We highlight a number of important places in Delft and tell you how they are connected to Vermeer.
Johannes Vermeer’s life began in the Nieuwe Kerk. Vermeer was baptized here on October 31, 1632, after which he spent a large part of his life on the Markt, located next to the church. While the Nieuwe Kerk marked the beginning of Vermeer’s life, the church actually marked the end for his own family. Vermeer’s grandfather, parents, sister and wife are buried here. Vermeer himself, on the other hand, is buried in the Oude Kerk, where his mother-in-law had her own grave at the time. Vermeer died in 1675, leaving his wife and eleven children with major financial problems.
After his death, Vermeer’s work remained undervalued for a long time. Vermeer had also made a small number of paintings. It is estimated that Vermeer made approximately 40 paintings. This number is very low compared to other painters of the time. It was not until 1866 that Vermeer began to become more famous. A Frenchman named Thoré-Bürger wrote a piece criticizing the religious paintings of the time. Thoré-Bürger praised the bourgeois scenes that Vermeer had painted and called him ‘the Sphinx of Delft’. After this, Vermeer’s work became increasingly popular and a hunt for his paintings began.
Nieuwe Kerk, Delft, Oude en Nieuwe Kerk Delft
Gezicht op Delft, Mauritshuis, Den Haag
If you look at the Schie from the Hooikade, you will see what Johannes Vermeer saw in the 17th century. At least, without all the modern developments. Just like then, in the painting View of Delft you can see how the early sun rises in the east and how dark clouds can form above the houses. In the painting, the cloud cover creates dark houses in the foreground, while the houses in the background are bathed in sunlight. To this day, this cityscape remains one of Johannes Vermeer’s most famous paintings. And it can still be visited.
Another well-known cityscape in Delft is visible in the painting The Little Street. Vermeer had not just painted a random house. This house was probably inhabited by an aunt of Vermeer and her children. They lived in a neighborhood where people such as carpenters and butchers lived at the time. Although there are a few differences between today’s street and the street from the painting, it is still an important place.
Exclusively during the Vermeer year, it is possible to paint the house Vermeer Street at the Royal Delft Museum. Unleash your creativity during the Vermeer painting workshop!
Het Straatje, Vermeer Centrum, Delft
Oude Langendijk, Delft, Achter de gevels van Delft
When Vermeer married Catharina Bolnes in 1653 at the age of 21, the couple moved to the place where Vermeer’s mother-in-law lived. She lived in a chic mansion on the Oude Langendijk. Vermeer lived in this house for 15 years. Here, he had a studio with light from the north, which was popular among painters at the time. Because Vermeer’s window faced north, less sunlight could enter the studio. Sunlight causes a constantly changing angle of light, which is disadvantageous for painters. The painter also had a view of the Market and his previous home, the Mechelse Herberg. Nowadays the Oude Langendijk is called Jozefstraat, but the house can still be visited.