High resolution images of Vermeer’s paintings

High resolution images of Vermeer's paintings
Johannes Vermeer was either a remarkable 17th century Dutch painter or an enchanted sorcerer of light from beyond time and space — sometimes it’s hard to tell — but I find his work particularly entrancing among all painters.

His known existing oeuvre consists of only 36 paintings, each fascinating in their own way.

I have previously recommended the wonderful resource website, Essential Vermeer, maintained by Jonathan Janson, which is the go-to place on the web for information about Vermeer, his work, methods, context and historical background.

Though that site lists and shows all of the master’s paintings, including showing them at their relative sizes (which can sometimes be surprising), it does not itself host high-resolution images of the works; to do so would likely add prohibitive bandwidth costs to an already intense labor of love.

Instead, Janson devotes a page to resources for high-resolution images of Vermeer’s paintings, where possible on the websites of the museums in whose collections they reside. Some are in higher resolution than others, of course, but all let you see some of Vermeer’s extraordinary (and often surprisingly painterly) technique.

In addition, Josh Jones, writing for Open Culture, has assembled a more compact list.

If you have the chance to see Vermeer’s work in person, I highly recommend it. Essential Vermeer lists the paintings by geographic location and collection here.

There are, of course, numerous books on Vermeer. (One I particularly like for its details and context is Vermeer, by Pascal Bonafoux; it’s out of print but available used.)

Janson has a list and reviews of many others here. He has also published his own eBook, Looking Over Vermeer’s Shoulder: Seventeenth – Century Dutch Fine Painting Techniques and Studio Practices With Particular Focus On the Work of Johannes Vermeer, available from LuLu, which I have not yet had the chance to read.

Short of those options, these resources for high-resolution Vermeer images are a good way to view and enjoy some of the most remarkable paintings in the world.

[Topic suggestion courtesy of Eric Lee Smith]


Eye Candy for Today: Ingres graphite portrait of Mme. Lethière

Madame Alexandre Lethiere and Her Daughter Letizia, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, graphite portrait
Madame Alexandre Lethière and Her Daughter Letizia, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Graphite on paper, roughly 11×9 in (30×22 cm); in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the download or zoom icons under the image.

Another of Ingres’ marvelous pencil portraits in which the delicately attentive portrait is set off by his seemingly casual sketch of the figure and drapery.

I never tire of the effect these often create of responding to the subject of the portrait as a person — and simultaneously being reminded that it’s just lines on paper!



Art Renewal Center (update)

Art Renewal Center: Daniel Gerhartz, Jason de Graaf, John Buxton, Geraldo Gilberto, Gavin Glakas, Arantzazu Martinez, Peter Fiore, Tanvi Pathare, Jake Frima, Cornelia Maria Hernes, Kelly Phelps, Jeffery Larsen, Vitaliy Shtanko, Sergio Lopez, Donato Giancoia, Hanwu Shen, Heather Theurer
As I mentioned in my article on the 10 year anniversary of Lines and Colors, my first post was on August 22, 2005. It was about the Art Renewal Center, a long-standing bastion of representational realism on the web. At the time I had both enthusiasm and some reservations for ARC, and I suppose that is still the case.

I still admire what they’ve accomplished in putting the site together, it’s an amazingly extensive resource. However, I no longer include ARC among the online image resources in my article listings for figures from art history, as they have had to institute a policy of restricting access to many images to signed-in members in order to encourage financial support of the site.

Not that I fault them in that policy in any way — it’s expensive to maintain a site at that level — nor do I mean to suggest that membership in ARC is not worthwhile, I have a membership myself; but I also have my own policies for Lines and Colors, one of which is that I do not link to sites that block access to their articles or images.

For this same reason, I do not link to artists’ Facebook pages, Pinterest, New York Times articles, Artist Daily or any of a number of other sites that block or restrict access in some way. I’m not trying to criticize with that policy, my goal is simply to provide Lines and Colors readers with a barrier-free experience when I give them links to art images.

However, I will take this occasion to recommend areas of the ARC site that are not at this point restricted by membership requirements, and are most certainly worthwhile. Specifically this is their coverage of contemporary artists, both in the form of their listing of “ARC Living Masters“, and their yearly ARC Salon competitions.

These are notable both for focusing on artists in the tradition of representational realism, and for featuring high-resolution images of many of the artists’ works, often larger than any images on the artists’ own websites.

The Salon is of particular interest for the variety of genres and the division of them into award categories. Once on the page for a given year, look for the links to the various categories at the bottom of the pages.

To some degree, there is an emphasis on highly refined work, somewhat in the academic tradition, but there are painterly artists, and the roster has expanded over the past decade to include more artists in the fields of illustration and fantasy art (“Imaginative Realism” in their parlance). There is also an emphasis on oil over water media, but they do pay a fair bit of attention to drawing.

I’ve chosen some images above that represent some of their featured artists and Salon winners.

(Images above: Daniel Gerhartz, Jason de Graaf, John Buxton, Geraldo Gilberto, Gavin Glakas, Arantzazu Martinez, Peter Fiore, Tanvi Pathare, Jake Frima, Cornelia Maria Hernes, Kelly Phelps, Jeffery Larsen, Vitaliy Shtanko, Sergio Lopez, Donato Giancoia, Hanwu Shen, Heather Theurer)


Luigi Loir

Luigi Loir, painter of Paris
I’ve written previously about three of the four late 19th and early 20th century painters whose styles are sometimes called “Parisianism”, or more simply “Painters of Paris”, Eugéne Galien Laloue, Edouard-Léon Cortès and Antoine Blanchard.

Never a formal group, these were just painters working in slightly different times, with similar intentions and shared influences. They were noted for their portrayals of the city of light, its boulevards and landmarks, often with the intense yellows and oranges of luminous shop windows set against low chroma backgrounds in complementary blue-grays and earth colors.

(Jean Béraud is often added to that list, but his style was different enough that I don’t generally include him in with the others.)

Though Galien Laloue remains my personal favorite, Luigi Loir is the originator of the characteristic style the others — particularly Cortes and Blanchard — later became known for; he is also arguably the most original and artistically sophisticated of the painters.

Loir sought to capture the streets of Paris in varying conditions of atmosphere and light, but often chose twilight, evening, or overcast days in which the lights of shops and cafes were set aglow against the muted colors of the city’s beautiful monuments and architecture.

Loir and the others populated their streets with throngs of gesturally indicated shoppers, travelers and cafe goers, on foot and in carriages. Though they look romanticized to us (and likely to Cortes and Blanchard), to Loir, these were scenes of contemporary, everyday life — at the time, a novel approach that he shared with the Impressionists.

Loir was also a prolific designer and illustrator, given the distinction of creating official exhibition cover for the 1900 Exposition Universelle (what we now think of as the “Worlds Fair”) in Paris.

Loir was adept with gouache, watercolor and oil, as well as being a pioneer in the use of chromolithography, a process that allowed the wide publication of large scale color images for the first time.

As with Galien Laloue, it is Loir’s gouache paintings that I find most compelling — part painterly, part graphic, alive with vibrant contrasts of chroma, value and delineation.


New online collection from the Indianapolis Museum of Art

New online collection from Indianapolis Museum of Art: William McGregor Paxton, T.C. Steele, Willem Kalf, Robert Henri, Jacob van Ruisdael, Gilbert Stuart, Camille Pissarro, William Merritt Chase, Edmund Charles Tarbell

A number of art museums have been revitalizing their websites as they begin to realize what a powerful tool they are for public relations, as well as for their theoretical mission of education.

Not all can aspire to the gold standard set a few years ago by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but many museums are doing a creditable job of not only showcasing the museum but making large portions of their collections available online in searchable form.

While many museums are still clueless, going to the trouble to catalog their collections in online databases, and then providing less than useful images at small sizes (likely out or misguided or misinformed notions about copyright), some are doing it right.

As a case in point, Indianapolis Museum of Art — who I applauded in 2011 for presenting their excellent collection in a well organized and attractive website — has just unveiled a new show-them-how-it’s-done online collection search and browsing feature.

The initial page for the collections comes up with a simple search box. My one small complaint is that the page I find most useful to search from doesn’t come up until you’ve done a search, so I like to initially hit the search button with an empty query to get to this page.

From there, you can sort into collections on the left, as well as maker, material, object type and technique. I found the collections of American Painting, European Painting and Prints & Drawings especially fruitful. The museum’s collection is strong in American art in particular.

In Prints & Drawings, you may want to limit by material (e.g. watercolor). In all searches, you may find it helpful to use the “Has Image” filter at the top of the page.

There is also an entry point for browsing the collection.

The images are presented in zoomable versions, which can be viewed fullscreen, making the zoom feature actually useful. Those in the public domain have download arrows. You need to click on one of those silly “use” disclaimers, but I’ve gotten more tolerant of those under the heading of (“if it makes them feel better about putting large versions of public domain images online, fine”).

Many of the images are available in high resolution, allowing you actually appreciate them in a way that the tiny web images offered up by some museums don’t allow. (Most of the detail crops I’ve provided for the example images above are not even at full resolution.)

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has impressed me enough with their online presence that I have added Indianapolis to my list of places I’d like to visit, just to see this collection in person.

(Images above, with details: William McGregor Paxton, T.C. Steele, Willem Kalf, Robert Henri, Jacob van Ruisdael, Gilbert Stuart, Camille Pissarro, William Merritt Chase, Edmund Charles Tarbell)

[Via BibliOdyssey]


Eye Candy for Today: JMW Turner etching and mezzotint

Bridge and Cows (Liber Studiorum, part I, plate 2), Joseph Mallord William Turner
Bridge and Cows (Liber Studiorum, part I, plate 2), Joseph Mallord William Turner

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use the zoom or download links under the image.

Part of a series of etchings Turner produced, categorized to illustrate the various kinds of landscape (in this case “P” for “Pastoral”), this beautiful etching and mezzotint was, like the others in the series, derived from preliminary drawings Turner did in brown watercolor, and is printed in brown ink, carrying forward that wonderful quality that such drawings can have.

The byline indicates “Designed and etched by Joseph Mallord William Turner”, but as the Met’s page points out, the mezzotint was applied to the plate by engraver Charles Turner (no relation), with whom JMW Turner frequently collaborated.

(For a bit more on mezzotint, see my Eye Candy post on James Stephenson’s mezzotint version of Millais’ Ophelia.)

I love Turner’s loose, gestural line, the delicacy of the clouds, and the wonderfully textural quality and moody darks of the tree trunks and bridge.