Arts Everyday Living: Escaping Social Distancing Through Art—Why Do We Love Vermeer?





What is it about a Vermeer?  In this Art Circle, I’m featuring 9 of at least 34 paintings that are currently identified as his works (according to the highly recommend website Essential Vermeer).  We know so little about his life, including the identification of the often haunting models who grace his timeless interiors. Engaged usually in everyday activities that by the miracle of art are transformed into extraordinary moments enduring for an eternity.

Notice too each Vermeer is accompanied by a quote from: French bishop Francis de Sales (1567-1622), American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), British author J.R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973), French priest John Vianney (1786-1859), American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and American artist Robert Henri (1865-1929).


Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid, c. 1657-1661, oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. 

Saint Francis de Sales


Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, c. 1662-1665, oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal  friends.

Emily Dickinson


Johannes Vermeer, The Little Street, c. 1657-1658, oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Time doesn’t seem to pass here: it just is.

J. R. R. Tolkien


Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665-1666, oil on canvas, Maurithuis, The Hague, Netherlands

A pure soul is like a fine pearl…  

John Vianney


Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, c. 1662-1665, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

The windows of my soul I open wide to the sun.

John Greenleaf Whittier


Johannes Vermeer, A Lady Seated at a Virginal, c. 1670-1675, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London, UK

Without music, life would be a mistake.

Friedrich Nietzsche


Johannes Vermeer, Woman with a Pearl Necklace, c. 1662-1664, oil on canvas, Staatliche Museum, Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, Germany

Find ecstasy in life, the mere act of living is joy enough.

Emily Dickinson


Johannes Vermeer, The Art of Painting, c. 1662-1668, oil on canvas, Kunsthistorisches, Vienna, Austria

The object isn’t to make art, it is to be in that wonderful state that makes art inevitable.

Robert Henri