The 'View of Delft' by Johannes Vermeer, a guided art history tour through this painting

One of the only signed and dated paintings.

1646: Vermeer's genius bursts forth in the VIEW OF DELFT - it's amazing. It is one of the only paintings in the history of Western art showing us a privileged moment of vision lasting a fraction of a second.
Normally, a landscape is shown bathed in light or drowned in darkness, for eternity. Vermeer shows Delft in shadows. Suddenly, for the time of a single breath, a ray of sunlight lights, illuminates the city. One holds one's breath. The sun will disappear. This is the impression of an ephemeral fleeting moment, painted with such serenity and classicism that this second seems to have been etched into eternity.
Proust said: "From the moment I saw the View of Delft at The Hague Museum, I knew that I had seen the world's most beautiful painting".

Never a solid color. A great number of small strokes create the illusion of solid colors. A dialogue between juxtaposed flakes gives all his paintings a sparkling effect. The word pointillism is called for. All is accomplished by allusion, by stipple. This is how the mirage aspect was created which can be seen in all his work, as though reality were slipping away, to be transcended by the vision.
The density of the colors is so powerful that no reproduction can really show it. The lapis lazuli of some of the roofs, its decline into the grey reflections, which is then glorified by the interaction of the clouds, can hardly be noticed. The interplay of the sunlight is so subtle that is only revealed in the original.


 
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VIEW OF DELFT - 1660-1661
98.5 x 117.5 cm. - The Mauritshuis, The Hague Click

A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU - MARCEL PROUST: LA PRISONNIÈRE

...Bergotte died in the following circumstances: due to a slight attack of uremia, rest had been prescribed for him. But a critic had written that in the View of Delft (on loan from The Hague museum for a Dutch exhibition), a painting which he adored and thought he knew very well, a small section of yellow wall (which he did not remember) was so well painted that, if it were considered alone, like a precious Chinese work of art, its beauty was sufficient unto itself. So Bergotte ate a few potatoes, went out and entered the exhibition. As soon as he started climbing the stairs, he was overcome with dizziness. He passed several paintings and had the impression of dryness and the uselessness of such artificial art, which could not be compared to the drafts and the sun of a Venetian palazzo or a simple house by the sea shore. Finally, he was in front of the Vermeer, which he remembered as more striking, different than anything else he knew, but in which, thanks to the critic's article, he noticed, for the first time, the small characters in blue, that the sand was pink and, finally, the precious material of the very small section of yellow wall. He was getting dizzier; he fixed his gaze on the precious little section of wall, like a child eying a yellow butterfly he means to catch. This is how I should have written, he said. My last books were too dry; I should have applied several layers of color, made my language more precious in and of itself, like this small section of yellow wall. He was fully aware, however, of the severity of his dizziness. A celestial scale appeared before him, one tray holding his own life, and in the other, the small section of wall, so yellow and well painted. He felt that he had rashly exchanged the former for the latter. "Nevertheless I would not want to be the news item about this exhibition for the evening papers, he thought. He repeated to himself: Little section of yellow wall with an awning, little section of yellow wall. Then he collapsed on a couch.