Johannes Vermeer is one of the greatest painters along with Rembrandt who represent the 17th century Dutch paintings. However, he remained obscure for nearly 200 years after his death until the mid-19th century. How was he rediscovered as a world-famous painter?
This is the smallest of Vermeer's paintings but also the most important. In a canvas smaller than an A4 paper, a woman in a yellow dress is making lace at a side table. She is carefully placing a pin with a pair of bobbins. The woman knitting lace is drawn in detail, but everything else is abstract, which is unusual for his time. The red tread on the blue cushion on the left is blurred and smooth like liquid. Other portraits of this era describe all the items featured in them in great detail, but Vermeer tried a new approach with this painting and drew some of the elements in an abstract manner.
This painting is no doubt charming, romanticizing little moments of everyday life with unique techniques. He was fairly recognized in Delft and had some loyal customers but produced only 35 paintings. It was a French art critic who brought his artworks into light again. Théophile Thoré-Bürger visited major European galleries and collectors with the papers and promoted his works after publishing papers attributed to the artist’s works in 1866. His efforts culminated in the Louvre buying the paintings in 1870.
Being held in the world’s best museum, Vermeer joined the ranks of the greatest artists. The value of his paintings soared after they were reevaluated, attracting interest from other galleries and the rich. Unfortunately, Thoré could not witness all this himself as he died in 1869. But his name will go down in history as someone who rediscovered Vermeer.