Author(s): Gary Schwartz
Vermeer In Detail is an introduction to the great Dutch artist through the most beautiful and evocative details in his paintings. Vermeer was uniquely gifted in his ability to combine two of the most attractive qualities of old master painting. His objects from everyday life and faces and figures of women are completely convincing and captivating as realistic descriptions. At the same time, they are endowed with a poetic aura that carries his pictures past the realm of visual delight into the viewer's daydreams. He achieves this through the power of suggestion. As explicit as they seem, his images are invitations to fantasize, an invitation that is impossible to resist. The 140 well-chosen details in the book are divided into ten themes that characterize Vermeer's sometimes unexpected interests. For example, although he has no obvious predecessor in older Dutch art of his time nor an identified master, Vermeer furnishes his interiors with images of paintings by other artists in a gesture of admiring tribute. One kind of detail stands out more than any other: the faces of young women and their shawls, caps, hats, ribbons and curls. It is they who attract our gaze, which they sometimes return, and afford us entrance into the spaces in which they live.