View of Delft, Johannes Vermeer
On Wikipedia, original is in the Mauritshuis.
Sometimes overlooked among the enigmatic Dutch master’s oeuvre of striking paintings are Vermeer’s three known landscapes (or more properly, cityscapes), only two of which are existing: The Little Street and View of Delft.
Aside from the simple fact that View of Delft a beautiful painting, there are several things I particularly enjoy about this work.
One is the interesting composition: a straightforward city view in the middle of the scene, but with that wonderful sweeping curve of the water and bank edge in the foreground.
The curve, and the fascinating shapes of the shadows in the water, are set off by the small figures in the foreground, which also give the painting its remarkable sense of scale. This is particularly the case with the two women silhouetted against the water, which anchor the painting for the viewer, and to my eye, are the focus of the work.
The scale of the foreground figures is reinforced even further by tiny figures across the water, both along the quay and inside the arch of the central building.
The dark to light layers of clouds — combined with the planes of distance suggested by the foreground, water, dark middle-ground buildings and light splashed distant buildings —give the painting an immense feeling of depth.