The paintings of 17th-century Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer are an inspiration, ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earing’ being the most familiar. He painted every day scenes in beautiful, but restrained colours. Most of all I love his command of light. In much of his work light is his dominant aesthetic, there’s a window on the edge or just outside his composition, like ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. My portrait photographs draw on the style of Johannes Vermeer and the Delft school of painting.
Vermeer’s paintings first caught my eye in the Musee du Louvre, Paris. The picture was ‘The Astronomer’. It was the way the light from the window gently illuminated the room, drawing the eye to the constellations on the globe, the astronomer turning the globe, distracted from studying his book, perhaps just imagining what could be out there.
I also saw ‘The Lacemaker’ in the Louvre. I think it’s exquisite, she is so content in pursuing her handicraft, the composition of the picture so perfect. Again, he’s used the light from the window to command our perception of the scene.
Johannes Vermeer was not a prolific painter; there are only 36 works in the catalogue. They’re described as ‘scenes of contemporary life’, known in the art world as ‘genre’ paintings. Ordinary scenes rendered beautifully by the composition and Vermeer’s masterly execution. It is not surprising that each one took him a long time to paint and make it so visually satisfying. X-rays show in some pictures where he’s changed his mind and painted something out.
My approach to family portrait photography has been influenced by Vermeer, you can judge whether I’ve done him justice here!