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Surfaces and Secrets
A spellbinding realism and intrigue
Though numbering just 35 known works, the œuvre of Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) is hailed as one of the most important and inspiring portfolios in art history. His paintings have prompted a New York Times best seller, a film starring Scarlett Johansson, and record visitor numbers at art institutions from Amsterdam to Washington.
Vermeer’s subjects focus on daily domestic activities, from letter writing to music playing to preparations in the kitchen. The scenes astound with their meticulous detail, majestic planes of light, and with Vermeer’s extraordinary ability to draw out narrative intrigues. In such beloved paintings as Lady Standing at a Virginal, A Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid and, most famously, the enigmatic, wide-eyed, and enchanting Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vermeer evokes not only the effects of substance and texture, but also the many stories and secrets that reside beneath the surface.
Featuring all Vermeer’s known works and succinct, accessible texts, this essential introduction explores Vermeer’s leading place in art history and his unique ability to transform oil paint into a living, breathing scene of human life.
Norbert Schneider is professor emeritus of Art History at the University of Karlsruhe. His research focuses on art history of the Middle Ages and early modern times (and the history of genres of painting), the methodology of art studies, and the history of philosophy. His numerous books include TASCHEN’s Still Life and Vermeer.