Changing blogging domain and site

Dear blogger friends, Lately, I had a few problems with the Blogger web site for my blog The Content Reader . I took this as a sign that I should finally create a web site of my own. I have been checking out other options, but could not get my act together. Finally, I have managed to create a basic web site with Wix, which I hope will be developed over time.  It has not been easy to find my way around. One thing one can say about Blogger is that it is easy to work with.  This site will no longer be updated Follow me to my new domain @ Hope to see you there.  Lisbeth @ The Content Reader

Nonfiction November - Vermeer's Little Street by Frans Gruzenhout


I bought two books when I visited Delft earlier this year. All about Delft and painter Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer mostly painted interiors from his(?) house. Young ladies in different occupations around the house, working, maybe being visited by a suitor, or just having a good time. He painted three outside views of which only two are known to exist today. One is View of Delft and one is The Little Street. Both wonderful, as everything that he painted.
"After 1696 we lose sight of The Little Street and the View of Delft for a very long time, and we have heard nothing whatsoever about the third town-scape since then. It is possible that it is lurking unrecognized as an anonymous work in a collection somewhere, or has been lost. The Little Street did not surface for more than a century, when it appeared in the estate of Gerrit Willem van Oosten de Bruyn, who died in Haarlem in 1797."
Since Vermeer became popular again at the end of the 19th century, art historians interested in his paintings have been asking themselves where he painted The Little Street. The buildings are not visible in Delft of today, or even a hundred years ago. The guesses have been many, but not entirely satisfying. Until art historian Frans Gruzenhout (or Grijzenhout) happened to come upon a source never before used for this purpose. 

Due to tax regulations, houses facing the canals and having access to gates towards the canals had to pay extra taxes. The peculiarity of Vermeer's little house is that the neighbouring houses have facing gates. Usually, the houses were built house/gate, house/gate etc. Here we have house/gate, gate/house. Out of only three possibilities, it was possible for Gruzenhout to, almost for certain, place the house on Vlamingstraat, in the mid-eastern part of the city. Furthermore, looking into the habitants of that house he discovered that an aunt of Vermeer had been living there.

Gruzenhout takes us through this mystery with elegance and facts, opening up a whole new world, not only of the house itself but of the family of Vermeer, including friends living in the same street. It is more exciting than any mystery book. 

So why are we so obsessed with which house he painted? " 'The Dutchman's desire to see everything as real: Vermeer's Little Street is there of there, no, it's a painting.' This was how the Flemish author Hugo Claus once responded with irritation when, in an interview with Ischa Meijer, he found himself having to defend his own use of -the convention of reality as a form.' " Because we do not know so much about Vermeer's life, apart from what he left behind, we are more eager to know where he painted the view of The Little Street. Especially, as this was an unusual motif for him. Maybe it is not important which house it is, it still gives us an intimate view of life in the Netherlands at the time. This is also what his other production is giving us. The ordinary people and the way they live. 
"We must, though, guard against drawing too simplistic conclusions in this respect. After all, Vermeer very deliberately chose not to make portraits of the figures in the painting. The face of the seated woman is indicated with no more than a dab of paint, the younger woman in the passage is a very general type and the children, entirely at odds with the conventions of portraiture, are pictured from behind. As is so often the case in Vermeer's work, all the figures seem to be wholly absorbed in their own occupations. In this specific instance of Vermeer's art, therefore, we can best think of these figures as possible allusions to the existence of these relations, whom the painter did not want to immortalize as individuals, captured in the dimension of the time when they lived, but at the same time lifted out of it into a more general, seemingly timeless form."

This last passage describes very well the specifics of Vermeer's paintings. His paintings draw you in, they give you details of life at the time, but still leaves a lot to your own imagination. Vermeer is one of my favourite painters, and it was so interesting to come a little bit closer to him through this painting. Especially, since it is a painting quite different from his most common ones. 

The book contains images of his paintings as well as other contemporary painters. A wonderful story of a painting. The original is exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. 


  1. How wonderful. Of course, I read Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring years ago (with my book club), visited Delft and have seen the painting in the Rijksmuseum. So, I might have to find this book the next time I can get to the Netherlands.

    1. Yes, do try to find it. It was quite interesting the search as such, but it also gave some aspects of Vermeer's life, of which not so much is known.
      I loved Girl with a Pearl Earring as well, and still think it is one of his best paintings. But there are a few others who could compete.

    2. It's on my list. I checked online but to no avail.

  2. I might have to order this one. In English, I hope! It sounds fascinating and I truly adore all the work of Vermeer. I don't think there is a single painting of his I don't admire. And of course, I love Delft. Thanks for this review.

    1. Yes, it is in English and it was quite interesting. Although concentrating on the mystery of the house, it still gave a few hints on the life of Vermeer and his time.

  3. Nice. Reminds me of course f the amazing documentary Tim's Vermeer

    1. Thank you for the tip, I did not know about this documentary. See that it is on Netflix, but unfortunately it does not mean they automatically show it in Sweden. I will search for it.


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