The Little Street

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The Little Street
Johannes Vermeer - Gezicht op huizen in Delft, bekend als 'Het straatje' - Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistJohannes Vermeer
Year1657–1658
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions54.3 cm × 44 cm (21.4 in × 17 in)
LocationRijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Little Street (Het Straatje) is a painting by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, executed c. 1657–58. It is exhibited at the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, and signed on the left hand corner below the window "I V MEER".[1][2]

Painting[edit]

The painting is made in oil on canvas, and it is a relatively small painting, being 54.3 centimetres (21.4 in) high by 44.0 centimetres (17.3 in) wide.

The painting, showing a quiet street, depicts a typical aspect of the life in a Dutch Golden Age town. It is one of only three Vermeer paintings of views of Delft, the others being View of Delft and the now lost House Standing in Delft.[3] This painting is considered to be an important work of the Dutch master.[4]

Straight angles alternate with the triangle of the house and of the sky giving the composition a certain vitality. The walls, stones and brickwork are painted in a thick colour, that it makes them almost palpable.

Painting materials[edit]

Vermeer achieved the realistic depiction of the surfaces with the masterful application of a relatively limited number of pigments[5]. He employed red ochre and madder lake for the reddish-brown brick wall, the blue in the sky contains lead white and natural ultramarine. The green shutters and foliage are painted with azurite mixed with lead-tin-yellow[6].

Location[edit]

Voldersgracht, where the artist grew up in Delft
Present day Vlamingstraat in Delft

While generally agreed to depict a contemporary street scene in 17th-century Delft, where Vermeer lived and worked, the exact location of the scene Vermeer painted has long been a topic of research and discussion, with studies arguing for the Voldersgracht, where the Vermeer Centre is located, or the Nieuwe Langendijk at the present-day numbers 22 to 26.[7]

In 2015, archival research based on the city's quay dues register, which gives detailed measurements of all houses and passageways along the canals of Delft at the time, has resulted in the conclusion that the site is the Vlamingstraat, a street with a narrow canal, at the present-day numbers 40 and 42.[8] The research also found that the property on the right in the painting belonged to Vermeer’s aunt, Ariaentgen Claes van der Minne. She had a business selling tripe, and the passageway beside the house was known as the Penspoort, or Tripe Gate. Vermeer’s mother and sister also lived on the same canal, diagonally opposite.[8] [9]

In 2017 this apparently sound conclusion was disputed by art historians Gert Eijkelboom and Gerrit Vermeer in the Dutch Journal of Historical Geography (Tijdschrift voor historische geografie). The argument is essentially founded in the assertion that the painting does not depict an actual place, and thus cannot be accurately located. Said the authors, "We do not know whether the question will ever be answered, because it seems that Vermeer's world-famous work is an allegorical representation, which he compiled from various elements and places."[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Little Street by VERMEER". Web Gallery of Art. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  2. ^ "The Little Street". Rijksmuseum. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  3. ^ Montias, John Michael (1989). Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History. Princeton University Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-691-00289-7.
  4. ^ "collections". Rijksmuseum.
  5. ^ Kuhn, H., A Study of the Pigments and the Grounds used by Jan Vermeer, Reports and Studies in the History of Art, National Gallery of Art (Washington, 1968).
  6. ^ Vermeer, A Little Street, ColourLex
  7. ^ Kees Kaldenbach (2000). "Het Straatje van Johannes Vermeer: Nieuwe Langendijk 22-26? Een kunsthistorische visie op een archeologisch en bouwhistorisch onderzoeks". Bulletin KNOB. 99 (6). doi:10.7480/knob.99.2000.6.389.
  8. ^ a b Rijksmuseum. "Vermeer's The Little Street discovered". www.rijksmuseum.nl. Rijksmuseum. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  9. ^ Grijzenhout, Frans (2015). Vermeer’s The Little Street. A View of the Penspoort in Delft. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum. ISBN 9789491714702.
  10. ^ "Kunsthistorici: Vlamingstraat is niet het 'Straatje van Vermeer'". Delftse Post. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]