Monday, April 24, 2006

Vermeer's Woman in Blue gives birth to a Waterhouse painting?


Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

John William Waterhouse, The Crystal Ball

I don't have anything profound to say about these paintings except to note their (to my mind) striking similarities, down to their analogous compositional principles (the vertical and horizontal lines in the woman's room in the Vermeer mirroring the straight edges of the letter; the rounds in the woman's room in the Waterhouse echoing the crystal ball. Also, as the post's title indicates, I like the sense of these paintings' intertextuality: the suggestion that Vermeer's woman's pregnant roundness gives birth to the roundnesses in the Waterhouse.

And I just happen to like both of them, each on its own terms.


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8 comments:

Aunty Marianne said...

Well aren't essentialvermeer spoilsports!

I shall have to go and look it up elsewhere.

Nice Waterhouse. Always did like the Pre-Raphaelite look. Very fond of King Cophueta and the Beggar Maid, for example.

John B. said...

Aunty,
I'm sorry the Vermeer isn't showing up for you. Perhaps the good people at EssentialVermeer think you can dash on over to the Netherlands and see it any time you want. In any case, it shows up fine for me.

poco said...

Is that Vermeer late in his career? The style seems looser and more painterly than what I expect from him.

fearful_syzygy said...

The Vermeer came up as a 'no hot-linking' sign until I clicked on it, and since then it's been fine.

John, do you know the book by Mieke Bal called 'Quoting Caravaggio'?

John B. said...

jmb,
You ask an excellent question. According to EssentialVermeer, this one is mid-career Vermeer--from the same time, surprisingly, as Woman Holding a Balance. If you're interested,
here is a chart with the dates for the paintings.

F_S,
This morning I had the same troubles Aunty Marianne reported, so I linked to another image. I think things are set aright now.
And no, I don't know the Bal book, but I do a book by him/her on narratology. And I do like Caravaggio . . .

jmb said...

The Waterhouse seems to have Gustav Klimt overtones as well as the Vermeer feeling. What year is that painting?
I did enjoy the link to the chart you provided.Fascinating there is so much scholarly disagreement on the dates of Vermeer's paintings.

And I do think that in these examples, Waterhouse employs qualities of doorsien more successfully than Vermeer does. Vermeer's space is quite flat in comparison. In general, I prefer the Waterhouse. The composition is stronger since it is so reinforced by the repetition of circular elements.The red is quite passionate. I find myself drawn to that crystal ball.

Happy Birthday!

R. Sherman said...

Hi John. That's the great thing about art. We feel the need to explain it, but in the end, it's what touches us. It's trite to say, "I know what I like," but in the end, it is that emotional attachment to a painting or a song, which means something.

Cheers.

fearful_syzygy said...

Well in the narratology book, Bal uses one of the same works of art, namely the Aptekar one from the 'Levels of Narration' chapter. I'm not sure which came first, but I'm thinking she may have expanded the bit in Narratology to a full-size book. Certainly worth a look, I should say...