LIFE, UNIVERSES AND OTHER STUFF
13Nov/14Off

BREAD OF LIFE

"Much like Leonardo da Vinci, I worked intermittently on this single painting over a period of many years, never satisfied that it was finished, and continually improving upon the original.  This painting is my personal Mona Lisa, my daughter, Maria.  

We had a live-in servant for many years, named Tanneke Everpoel, hired and paid by Maria Thins.  She did all of the "heavy labor", as it were: cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, carrying water, tending fires, and a myriad other chores, including helping with the children.  However, the expense of paying her wage and room did not include standing for endless hours, day after day, while I painted this portrait!  My daughter, Maria, was lovelier and much more readily accessible for the task of standing for this portrait.

It is argued, convincingly, that the immortal painting by Leonard was his own self-portrait as his own, feminine  reflection. What man, or woman, regardless of sexual preference in a given lifetime, has not inhabited the flesh of ten thousand bodies, some human, many not, through  a nearly infinite cascade of galaxies, stars and planets come and gone.  Is not survival a nearly infinite game, in which we interchange ourselves as the players of many parts?

Leonardo kept his portrait with him all his life.  He never considered that it was complete or perfect.  Nor did he ever intend to sell it.  How could one sell a most cherished reflection of himself?  It is more meaningful than one's own body, which only disguises the inner self, the essence of spirit that animates the fragile flesh.  In fact, a body hides the reflection of the soul!  How can any substance, especially that as rude and fragile as meat, reveal the inherent qualities an immortal nothingness?  Indeed, it is the fundamental challenge and the most formidable task of an artist to reveal it!

The name given to this painting by others, "The Milkmaid", is a sacrilege!   It rivals the incomprehension others have for Leonardo's personal masterpiece.  Yet, how can anyone truly understand that a painting is meant to reflect the  essence of an immortal being, seen through the eyes of another?Vermeer on iTunes

She is painted with angelic colors: blue, gold and white, in contrast to the menial nature of her station in life.  From her issues, for me, the Milk and Bread of Life.  Life is embodied in her and through her.  Women, are the source of children, the source of energy, the source of care.  There is no more vital responsibility for any being who plays the game of life, than to confront dreary daily tasks.  To humbly make the daily loaf.  To soak that bread, mix and soften it with milk, make it warm and feed it to a teething child.  Survival is made of such things.

In those days I viewed life as idyllic.  My dreams were more real than reality.  All things were a possibility.  Tragedy could not find me.  Until it did, of course.  Even when we lost a child, which we did with several, my wife, Catharina, remained resolute in her Faith.  God guided us.  He did what was best.  We knew not why and need not question His purpose for us. 

I have no such faith in predetermination.  A loaf of grain, clean water and a bed was my fare.  Time and a place to paint, uninterrupted, were necessities.  My love, shared with wife and family, was the staple diet of my life.  I assumed, as a Fool who knows not his own mortality, that they would endure, even when I was gone."

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Excerpt from the book VERMEER: PORTRAITS OF A LIFETIME, by Lawrence R. Spencer

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20Jun/12Off

MYSTERY WOMEN

Women in the paintings of Vermeer

"Exhaustive research conducted by a wide range of investigators during the 300 years since his death proves that Vermeer had no other studio outside of his home in which to paint.  The logical extension of this fact, inasmuch as Vermeer and his wife Catharina produced 15 children during his short life, what that he must have been constantly, and continually surrounded by his family in the house while he painted!  By extrapolation, is it not obvious, even at the most casual investigation, that the most readily available models for his paintings would be his own family members?   This observation is compounded and ratified by the fact that nearly every one of his surviving paintings features young women as the principle model!

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Vermeer worked at home, and that he painted pictures of the women in his own family.  It is clearly documented that Vermeer had 5 daughters old enough to be the women shown in the paintings.  Also, his wife and mother-in-law, are very likely candidates to be women shown in his paintings.  A very thorough comparison of the faces of each of the women shown in his paintings reveals the obvious observation that the same women are being painted again and again. "

-- Excerpted from the book, "Vermeer: Portraits of A Lifetime", by Lawrence R. Spencer

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12Nov/09Off

Paintings of Johannes Vermeer, A Video

Here is a lovely video featuring many of the paintings by Johannes Vermeer.  Enjoy!