by Kees Kaldenbach, art historian.
Generally, painters prefer northern day light in their studios as that light changes the least in "colour temperature" from sunrise via high noon to dusk. This means that the hues and values of painted colours can be read by the same colour of light all day long.
As most houses in Dutch towns are aligned in such a way that light only enters the house from the street side or from the garden side, it follows that the studio would be at either of these two ends of the house.
In any street which runs from east to west the northern light can be found on the garden side of the northern block of houses and at the street side of the southern block of houses. In Delft this is obvious at such streets as Choorstraat.
When we look at Vermeer's studio in the house on Oude Langendijk, there are several sources of information. From the Kaart Figuratief and other sources we know that this building was long and narrow.
We also know about the building's lay-out because of the inventory made after Vermeer died in 1675. In the inventory made on 29 February 1676 the rooms occupied by Maria Thins, which may have housed a clavichord or virginal, were not included. Thus we only know of a part if the lay out.
What we know is this:
There is a voorhuis (front house) large enough to contain four paintings.
There is a grote zaal (great room) large enough to contain furniture, household implements, several paintings, household linnens and woolen cloth, as well as Vermeer's Turkish Mantle and his Civic Guard implements, being a metal armour and helmet.
Then there is a binnenkeuken (an inner kitchen) large enough to contain nine paintings, one of which is large, and a good length of gilt leather wall covering.
There is a op de kelderkamer (a room situated on top of the cellar) containing various paintings.
There is a voorkamer (front room) in which all of the painters implements. Thus he used as his studio the room facing the water of the Oude Langendijk.
In September of 2002 a breathtaking electronic version of Vermeer's house will be opened exclusively on this web site. It will contain 3D QuickTime showing a full mockup of the house. This electronic mockup, crafted by industrial designer Allan Kuiper has been based (for the most part) on hard historical evidence.
Architectural plans and elevations will be discussed as well. These plans have been drawn expressly for this ground breaking project by Henk Zantkuijl, formerly of the Delft Polytechnic, the foremost architectural historian in the Netherlands.
Many household objects mentioned in the 1676 inventory will be available as well, shown room by room. When objects on the inventory list are clicked, an image will pop up showing a similar object from one of the famous Dolls Houses in the Rijksmuseum or from another historical source. When it comes to seventeenth century household objects and clothing items no other historical source is as wonderfully precise and well preserved.
The Rijksmuseum has agreed to contribute to this project by allowing free access to both the Rijksmuseum database of photographs and the use of the picture material.
This page forms part of a large encyclopedic site on Delft. Research by Drs. Kees Kaldenbach (email). A full presentation is on view at johannesvermeer.info.
Launched 16 February 2009; Last update March 1, 2017. More info in the RKD site.
Advise on the presentation of textiles and clothing have been kindly provided by the foremost textile historian Marieke de Winkel.
Thus it has become possible, after some 340 years, to enter into Vermeer's house and imagine his interior.
For more about the author of this home page click author.
Email me at email@example.com
Research by Kaldenbach. A full presentation is on view at www.xs4all.nl/~kalden/. When visiting Holland, join Private Art Tours.
Launched 16 February 2001; last update February 18, 2009.