14. Digital Art History Studies and Presentations on Questions - on Perception of Reality in Vermeer Paintings.


Part of an essay on Vermeer, brain channels, neural stimulus, visual perception and art appreciation

A 20,000-word essay on the interface between the fields of Vermeer, Art History and cognitive science, neuroscience and neuresthetics

written by Vermeer specialist, art historian Drs. Kees Kaldenbach, Amsterdam.


1) Foreword
2) Introduction and terminology. houding, perception of reality, realism, illusionism and trompe l’oeil
3) Understanding Vermeer’s Perception of Reality; a Discussion of Characteristics
4) Brain and colour
5) Form as registered by the brain
6) Facial recognition, depth, movement, fine vs broad
7) Using this knowledge in studying and appreciating Vermeer
8) Workshop matters, Painters’ Supplies, Palette, The fijnschilder style versus the loose style, fourteen Qualities listed by Philips Angel
9) Naturalness, enticing the viewers
10) Delft artists influencing Vermeer
11) Vermeers Early, Middle, Late period. Camera Obscura
12) Vermeer’s World of Interiors: a Reality or a Construction
13) Landmark Vermeer literature (in print on paper form)
14) Digital Art History Studies and Presentations on Questions - on Perception of Reality in Vermeer Paintings
15) External CD-Rom, DVD, film material on Vermeer
16) Selected Bibliography


CHAPTER 4. Digital Art History Studies and Presentations on Questions on Perception of Reality in Johannes Vermeer Paintings

4.1. Structure

In this paragraph an analysis and evaluation is presented of a number of digital presentations of Johannes Vermeer material. Particular attention is given to questions regarding perception of reality.

4.2 Section on ‘Kaldenbach’ material.

Some of the digital material discussed here has been developed and produced by myself. As I have explained in the opening chapter [1.1 Introduction], the idea behind this analysis of my own digital material is that I will approach it just as critically, as if the material was created by a third party. My vantage point should ideally be that of a detached observer.

4.2.1 Project ‘Flying over Delft’ with TU Delft / Delft University of Technology, Department of Geodesy (1998)

With the help of advanced computer programs a 3D (= three-dimensional, spatial) representation has been crafted of a free trajectory flight above the Dutch town of Delft as it was in 1660. Particular attention has been given to shaping the southern gates of Delft, which are shown by Vermeer in the View of Delft (Mauritshuis, The Hague). Parties involved

The parties involved were:
- Sub-faculty of Geodesy, Delft University of Technology, notably assistant professor Edward Verbree and student and project supervisor Ingrid Alkemade;
- Software firm Cross Worlds, The Hague;
- Kees Kaldenbach

During the summer of 1998, I contacted a number of institutions including the Sub-faculty of Geodesy of the Delft University of Technology - then named ‘Technische Universiteit Delft’ [TUD], proposing to create a digital flight over Delft.
With a surprising speed this project unfolded itselfas the ‘View of Delft’ was selected as a presentation subject by the board of the Sub-faculty of Geodesy. A small team of computer specialists then proceeded to craft a basic 3D world.
On the production side this fast production schedule was also due to an image archive, which I had collected from 1970 onwards. This archive consists of photo reproductions of paintings, drawings and prints of city views of the South side of Delft.[1]
Assistance in 3D object creation was provided by the software company Cross Worlds in The Hague. Personal ties linked people within this company with the Delft Geodesy team. Interests

The staff of the TUD sub-faculty of Geodesy wished to mark its celebration of ‘50 years of Geodesy’ by creating something truly extraordinary, advertising to the outside world the powers of modern Geographical Information System (GIS) technology, showing the prowess of its department in harnessing the latest GIS flyover visualization technology.
Project supervisor Ingrid Alkemade was a student who enjoyed working in this project as part of her studies.
In collaborating in this project at zero payment, the software company Cross Worlds in The Hague also wished to show its craft to the outside world. Basic choices

In order to accomplish this complicated task, which was executed in 1998, four consecutive steps have been taken.

As the first step a historical plan of Delft has been put on a flatbed scanner and the resulting flat image was entered as an image in a computer file. For our purposes the TUD Geodesy staff had selected a facsimile of a historical plan of Delft, dating from the end of the 17th C. The plan was produced by Frederik de Witt - who had based himself on other maps by Joan Blaeu (1649) and Johannes Janssonius (1657). The facsimile plan by De Witt was chosen as it then happened to be on sale at the counter of the Delft Archives. Looking back, this was probably poor choice, as the Blaeu map - and all related maps diverges from the actual layout of the town. Per given street block a reduced amount of houses are shown.[2] Choosing the geographically exact 1832 Kadastrale Minuut (the one which was later used for the Artists & Patrons map) would have been better.[3] Because of the far more detailed nature of that 1832 map it would however have also meant a doubling or tripling of the digital work.

Subsequently, as step two, this De Witt plan image - which was shown as a flat picture on a large computer screen - has been electronically traced, very carefully - line by line, house by house, by mouse click and cursor position, transferring the system of points and lines into the software of a Geographical Information System (GIS). Each set of digital point outlines the border of a given site. Then connecting lines were drawn between a number of these dots, resulting in a coherent set of points and lines, forming a polygon. Each and every polygon symbolizes an object (a house, street, canal, bridge, field, tree, etc.). To take an example: the ground plan of a simple, rectangular house is constructed by fixing four points and four lines in a simple rectangle, attaching the code for ‘house’. In the language used by computer-operators this step is phrased: ‘the polygon gets an object-identity’. It is clear that the GIS is an advanced type of geographical 2D map, because of the coded identity of its parts, which have been constructed by points, lines, vectors which form sets of polygons. Optionally there is more than one layer of code possible within GIS. If one wishes to define a bridge, then it will get the codes for ‘street’ as well as the code for ‘water’, for the land road and water way each continue unobstructed. In the end the GIS for this electronic Delft map consists of about 1700 separate coded objects.

After finishing this labour-intensive data-inserting work step three followed. The objects coded ‘house’ were given a jolt by flicking a switch and all houses were given a set height. This height has been defined for each house. The result is a map with blocks of houses resembling matchboxes, each object having a specific height. Seen from an oblique angle, this effect is already quite life-like, although the crude block shape remains noticeable. GIS specialists call this state of affairs 2,5D. The map of the town, which in fact is still flat (2D), has now taken on the shape of a digital model.

The fourth step marks the birth of true 3D. With the aid of 3D-Computer Aided Design (3D-CAD) software one can craft 3D representations of a number of GIS-objects. These take the place of former GIS objects. CAD creates a full spatial effect for any object, however complicated it may be.
In Delft this flight has been crafted with ‘Karma’, a powerful software program, which was developed by the Sub-faculty of Geodesy in collaboration with the Faculty of Technical Mathematics and Informatics of the TUD. During the last phases of the building phase assistance was provided by software company Cross Worlds in The Hague.
Finally the 3D shape, which has been created with the help of ‘Karma’ has been covered on each and every outer surface with small bits of flat ‘photo’ finish, be it walls, roof tiles or other materials. Whenever possible we have selected historical ‘footage’ in order to get a close resemblance of the desired structure, texture and colour.

The entire system was thus finished. Further computer and mouse manipulations allowed us to choose any angle or viewpoint we wish, whether it be a view from above or an oblique view and a free flight movement through space. For the first time in history one could recreate, on a small flat computer screen, or video beamed on a large-scale wall, a birds’ eye flight above Delft, 1660’.
Viewing actual 3D depth effect required special viewing glasses. The 3D glasses used in Delft were of an electronic kind, combining polarizing effects with electric currents, alternately shutting off the left hand side and then the right hand side - and repeating this trick many times a second. The video beamer also gave separate light pulses of light in the same rhythm, each time projecting an alternate image as seen about 10 to 20 cm. apart, first as seen from the imaginary right hand eye, then from the left hand eye, etcetera. With some concentration and practice one’s eye indeed jumped to correct 3D depth vision. However a few of the onlookers, especially elderly people, could not jump to experiencing this vision at all. Unaided by these special glasses the image was seen as flickering and somewhat blurred because of the quick overlapping changes in perspective. Learning activity / Visual imagination

In the initial hardware set-up a 3D mouse allowed for a free flight path and experiencing this self-piloted free flight was quite an event.
This technical set-up, first shown at the TUD Geodesy department, was replicated at a special temporary exhibition at the Techniekmuseum, Delft.
The 3D glasses dramatically increased the sensation of ‘being there’ within the chosen movement.
It has however been noted that not everybody was capable of experiencing the 3D effect. Especially the elderly viewers seemed to lack the trick of allowing the perception of the visual / mental / spatial jump to happen.

A year later, when the Techniekmuseum show was over and when I requested a movie version of the flight path movie, the 3D free flight could not be replicated. Because of an upgrade in the viewing software Karma, extensive compatibility problems arose, which have thus far remained unsolved. Thus the present day sets of data cannot be shown anymore in its full free-flight quality. What can however still be shown as a legacy is one QuickTime or AVI movie which was initially put on hard disk in December 1998. Evaluation

Evaluation criteria for all digital programs have been listed in paragraph 2.3.
Generally, the image quality of 3D virtual reality presentations has been leaping forward annually with amazing speed. Images of this Flight over Delft should thus be compared to those around in 1998.[4]
At the time of showing, 1998 this project was considered state of the art at the TUD.[5] Both for technical professionals and for laypersons it was reported to be a thrilling event to pilot and witness the 3D flight. The 3D mouse could be operated by anyone and allowed for an intuitive, efficient and enjoyable flight.
Imaging technology did not yield new knowledge and insights but it did give an experience of flying.
Restauration ethics did not enter the formula as the 2,5D blocks of houses were rather crude and as the architectural volume of both the Schiedam and Rotterdam gates were put together in a broad manner, without fine detail. The enticing result has been shown successfully in a museum environment although working the 3D mouse gave so many technical problems that in the end only a pre-recorded flight movie was available.
These results were reached pretty rapidly within a very limited amount of computer operator hours and with almost zero cost.

As a legacy, presently footage of just one fixed flight path is available as a movie for an Internet site. The full set of data awaits a transfer and tuning to the new version of the Karma software player. Project ‘Walking With Vermeer’ with TU Delft, Department of Industrial Design (1998-2000)

This program actually began in an informal way in 1998, at the very end of the Flight over Delft opening presentation. I told Kees Jorens of the Industrial Design Faculty about the exciting project Flight over Delft, which just had been accomplished at the Sub-faculty of Geodesy. I then proposed to build on that strength - and to start a new collaboration between the worlds of Art History and 3D image technology.
Because of Jorens’ immediate enthusiasm, a lengthy series of Departmental meetings began. We started off with the idea of creating a moving image of the View of Delft, complete with rippling water, moving ships, barking dogs, flying birds and moving clouds. Over the years of punctuated meetings, this initial concept - which would require major morphing and wire-frame building was slowly transformed into another level of conceptual thinking. Based upon my portfolio of reproductions of drawings and prints by various artists - who all show their views of this area around 1650-1830 - it was decided to adhere closely to the original artwork and morph these into several 3D environments.
Thus this ground breaking project was very slowly brought forward during the years 1998-2001. At my request, time and again Associate Professors Pieter Jan Stappers and Kees Overbeeke agreed to meet anew in order to discuss the future of the project. After about a year and a half of meeting once in a few months, my drive kept the impetus going. In the end Stappers and Overbeeke decided that something productive should be done and both men enthusiastically contributed their design experience, vision and technological background. Parties involved

-TUD IO staff members, Associate Professors Pieter Jan Stappers and Kees Overbeeke; teachers Kees Jorens and Aldo Hoeben.
-Petrik de Heus, student, project assistant
-Kees Kaldenbach Interests

For TUD IO it was a challenging situation, finding out software and hardware limits for low-cost and labour saving ways to gain an optimal 3D view of a historic past.[6] After studying the best software packages, the Canoma software package was bought for this project.
Department of Industrial Design released sufficient funds to hire one assistant to work for 100 hours on the Canoma software for this project.

The whole effort resulted in a remarkably spatial walk into a virtual world of cultural heritage. Basic choices

Given the limits on time and personnel no Hollywood type of high-resolution production would be possible. Given the circumstances, financing and the available technology, the latter was allowed to dictate the visual quality of the outcome and thus engendered a new type of rough-edge aesthetics
The choice of electronic source directly taken in high resolution from the historical drawings and prints was an excellent choice, leaving intact their artistic integrity.

The longest of the final movies, the ‘Rotterdam Gate Movie’ has been dubbed our Objet de Resistance. This movie is unique as it combined images from an imaginary camera lens travelling through a number of consecutive drawings and prints. The imaginary camera starts far away at the east side of the Rotterdam Gate, moves closer, then shows the entire gate from the side, moves through this gate, makes a pan movement across the buildings opposite, makes another full turn and finally moves towards the Schiedam gate which is the one in the centre of Vermeer’s View of Delft. Aldo Hoeben generated this movie by transferring the geometry output from Canoma into a conventional 3D animation package. After fixing problems of scale and some inconsistencies shape between the scenes, a walk-through was animated and combined with fade-overs of all the objects from one scene to the next.

The philosophy for all of the movies has not been to create a photo realistic experience. The beauty of the original drawings and prints, combined with the magical effect of walking into these old representations of Delft, made us decide to leave the ‘rough edges’, which show results of the technical process of creation within its own sphere of technological aesthetics. One such ‘rough edge’ is noticeable as a slanted black line at the lower left hand bottom view of the four consecutive still views above.
Finally Aldo Hoeben created a browser interface, which allows the present-day Internet viewer to visually choose each of the available QuickTime movies by the click of a mouse.

Hands-on work for this project actually started in May 2000 by scanning the necessary images in the Image and Sound Department of the Delft Archives, who kindly gave full cooperation. With the aid of a 4 light tripod set-up, Onno van Nierop assisted in making the electronic scans from the original works of art in the Municipal Archives. These high-resolution images were then fed into a computer for further processing.

A student-assistant - Petrik de Heus - was hired to do the time consuming 3D operator work in the software package Canoma. Canoma is a software package, which - with some authoring effort - creates 3D geometry from photographs. The Canoma application was developed by MetaCreations and has since been bought by Adobe who has actually taken it off the market. Adobe may however integrate Canoma’s technology in future products.[7] Canoma was a fitting tool as it is able to change viewpoint within a given image, covering the surface of the shifted and altered areas with a copied patch of the original surface pattern and colour.
Thus Petrik de Heus’ 100 hours of digital manipulation work resulted in a number of short Canoma movies. Some of these are a complete movie in themselves and pretty basic, starting off with the original image, moving the imaginary camera lens forward, travelling past near by objects which seem to be shaped 3D but are actually just paper thin props.
The movies have no audio tracks. One could imagine distant sounds like ringing of church and ferry bells, songs of birds, barking dogs. Learning activity / Visual imagination

On the map-like interface the Internet visitor sees four painters’ easels and by clicking then chooses each of the four movies. After downloading they can each be played, reversed or viewed frame by frame. This makes for a intuitive, efficient and enjoyable event.
With the aid of the movies the viewer is transported back to a lifelike physical environment and movement in Delft of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Problems with restoration ethics were bypassed as the original artwork had been adhered to closely. Evaluation

I feel that given the set constraints in effort, time and money an interesting and appealing result was reached.
This project was quite slow to unfold as it has been considered as not a mainstream teaching event but as an extracurricular activity within the Industrial Design department. Yet a number of staff members contributed liberally and faculty funds were made available in the final phase.

How is it to be valued? Initially, in the interest of objectivity, I would like to quote third party opinions. On the Internet one find through Google many enthused responses. A quotation from Mike Lee’s weblog, posted September 22, 2002:
“...an incredible virtual walkthrough. The longest QuickTime movie, "A walk by Rotterdam and Schiedam Gates in Delft" is well worth the five megabyte download.”[8]

In July and August 2002 the web visit counter at the Walking with Vermeer page, then just installed, registered a total number of 5000 visitor hits per month. This in itself is a token of serious public acclaim.[9]

On October 5, 2002 another user, Jeroen Patijn, sent his compliments, stating it was fantastic to see the past with this “mad, modern technology”.

For the benefit of art history students, the USA publishing house Prentice Hall has published an online course in art history. Chapter 19 dealing with problems in ‘Internet research on Baroque art’ states:
“Art historian Kees Kaldenbach has created a unique view of Delft using information from Vermeer's painting and utilizing old drawings merged together in a computer.
Begin at http://www.io.tudelft.nl/id-studiolab/vermeer/ and then follow instructions to take any of several walks through seventeenth and eighteenth century drawings of the city. Is this tool just a toy, an amusement? Or does it give one a sense of the place that one could not otherwise get?”[10]

My private evaluation is quite positive as well. Given the state of the art in 1998-2000 the learning process within the team of the Faculty was quite fascinating to witness. The resulting web site and its movies give a fine sense of historical witnessing, a ‘being there’ that has not been possible before. The image quality also diverges from the usual 3D movies, which have been built from wire-frames and thus give a geometric impression

4.2.3 Project Clickable Map of Delft Artists & Patrons (2001)

On my web site on Vermeer and Delft I have published a broad survey of Artists and Patrons living in seventeenth century Delft.[11] Actually this material exists not only on the Internet but in various printed formats as well.
In the conventional format some of the content has first been presented as an entry in the Vermeer exhibition catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, 2001 and afterwards separately, as a separate large wall chart. An abridged version of the map was also printed in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, 2001.[12]
On my Internet site the most complete version of map and text have been presented both as a clickable map and alternatively as a dropdown list of names. A separate article published in 2002 describes the genesis of this production.[13] Parties involved

- Delftsche Courant Newspaper, general editor Willem van der Kooij
- Delftsche Courant Newspaper graphic designer Rob Hofland
- Johannes Vermeer Stichting / Foundation for funding
- Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Walter Liedtke as editor.[14]
- Kees Kaldenbach, as project developer and author
- J.J. Raue, as mapmaker
- Sijthoff Pers publisher / PR department as publisher

This map project began as a research query on a relatively limited scale. Walter Liedtke, curator at the Metropolitan and author and editor of the Vermeer catalogue asked me to find the map location within Delft of a list of some 15 individual artists and patrons. [15] It soon became clear that very little had been published on the subject and even that which had been published in scattered books and articles was not always trustworthy. Even some printed cartographic sources proved to be incorrect - such as production errors on maps in an important book on Vermeer by Blankert, Montias and Aillaud.[16] Interests

Metropolitan Museum needed a mapped survey of artist’s homes, to be published in the Vermeer catalogue.
I wished to realize both a high quality addition for web site and a high quality map print for the exhibition catalogue, plus a separate wall chart.
The Delft Newspaper wished to uphold well over a century old tradition of making local art history research available for all readers
Sijthoff pers, publisher of the Delft Newspaper saw benefit in producing a low cost but high quality print, made locally available for its readers as a PR project.
J.J. Raue, a historian, now retired in France, once made a sharp line drawing after a faint and faded 1832 map; he kindly agreed on releasing his line drawing for this project.
Johannes Vermeer Stichting / Foundation decided it was fitting to support the printing of the English version and the free distribution of the Dutch end English versions of the map. Basic choices

As nothing existed like a broad survey of seventeenth century Delft artists and patrons, much archival groundwork was necessary. The municipal archives in Delft proved to be the best source for archival research and for printed documents. Their library also provided access to history books on local history. A major Delft history was written in the seventeenth century by Van Bleyswijck. Half a century later, another book with a similar title but with upgraded information was published in Delft by Boitet.[17]
Recent articles and monographs on Vermeer and on the life of artists and artisans in Delft were also available there. The most prolific single author proved to be John Michael Montias, an economic historian who has devoted a great deal of time to archival research and writing on Delft painters.[18]
Source material, found in other libraries included major art history handbooks published by Thieme-Becker and Saur.[19] Further books based on archival material, published by Obreen and Hofstede de Groot also proved indispensable.[20]
Within the Delft archive all spatial information was checked against a very large 20th century map of Delft, hanging on the wall of the Delft archives reading room, showing all present day street names and house numbers. Gradually more information became available and the final list of all private addresses was incorporated on both the text manuscript and on a large manuscript map.
As the project grew in scope, Walter Liedtke agreed to have a large map printed as a foldout map within the Vermeer exhibition catalogue.

On the web site the 120-page Obreen transcription, published in 1877, of the Delft Guild book of the Delft St Luke Guild was added later on. This Internet source now forms a searchable database in which one may query for any name. The inclusion of many hundreds of hyperlinks to the existing pages of individual artists and patrons makes this resource a fully networked tool. Individual pages of artists may contain links to other names of Delft inhabitants, be it masters, students or patrons. Thus an intricate network of Delft artistic life has been made available online.

In the research procedure, which led to such a remarkable body of new data I have used primary and secondary sources (see the extensive note).[21]

Choosing the right historical map on which to mark each house was essential. Up until this project, all books on artists in Delft have been illustrated with birds’ eye view maps of Delft made by Blaeu (1649) and his later followers such as Janssonius. These are beautiful to behold and these maps do suffice for getting a general impression of Delft. The most prestigious birds’ eye view of Delft was the Kaart Figuratief or Figurative Map (1675-78). Although this latter map was large in size and lavish care was given to its preparation and execution it still had one drawback. It depicts a smaller number of buildings on any given block than there actually were. For our purposes of marking each house a higher accuracy was required. Pinpointing exact addresses required a large map showing every single house in Delft. The earliest historic map of this type is the 1832 Kadastrale Minuut map. From the Napoleonic era onwards maps such as this one were produced by scientific methods. This Kadastrale Minuut map was used as a tool in registering real estate ownership, and was therefore to be preferred to the more obvious bird’s eye view maps. As little had changed in Delft’s layout between about 1600 and 1832, this map proved to be quite suitable. In the 17th century the one area which did change radically was the northeastern corner, devastated by a tremendous gunpowder explosion on October 12 ,1654.
The lines in the original 1832 Kadastrale Minuut map are fairly thin, and would not show well in a reduced size reproduction. This is why we chose a manually drawn line copy made by Raue for his 1982 book on the early history of Delft.[22]

Meanwhile, at the production department for exhibition catalogues in New York City it was decided that the cost of mapmaking and printing of a full size fold-out map would be prohibitive. Since there was to be no fold-out map the designer team of the catalogue production department felt it was necessary to radically simplify the cartographic presentation. A new map surface was designed on which not the Kaart Figuratief itself but grey fields indicated larger blocks of many hundreds of houses. The designers also decided that each dot for either an artists or patrons should contain a number instead of the person’s initials. At one point in the catalogue preparation, the total amount of text of the other articles had increased beyond reasonable bounds and the entire idea of a chapter on Delft topography was in jeopardy. It was doubted whether such a chapter would be worthwhile given the high cost of map design and production. However, in the end the project was saved by Walter Liedtke, who secured additional funding and who made a decisive case for its inclusion.

Thus the production of a map in the catalogue was saved but a full scale map of Delft, based on the high quality Raue version of the Kadastrale Minuut map was no longer feasible, and thus the situation looked bleak. The costs of creating a large map from scratch, electronically entering dots for 120 artists and 120 patrons and the ensuing full colour printing seemed entirely prohibitive.
Contact was then renewed with Willem van der Kooij, Editor-in- chief of the Delft newspaper the ‘Delftsche Courant’. Would his newspaper be interested in printing a double spread colour map of Delft, I asked him? His immediate response was positive and he set the necessary wheels in motion. After budget calculations by the newspaper’s management firm ‘Sijthoff pers’, and giving green light to a publicity plan devised by the public relations department, it was decided that the map project was on. This extraordinary production would be presented on newsprint as special service to the newspaper’s readers. At the same time the map would also be printed in a separate print run on high quality paper. This edition of the map was to be temporarily available at the newspaper office at a relatively low price.
Rob Hofland, a graphic designer from the Delft newspapers’ lay-out department, was also involved from the very start of the planning and production phase. His expertise contributed to ingenious solutions in combining the various layers of topographical, biographical and art historical elements into a single yet coherent and attractive visual resource. The Raue version of the Kadastrale Minuut map (see above) was reduced in size and scanned into a computer. The various dots with initials and numbers were then electronically superimposed on the map. They show the locations of artists (indicated in red dots) and patrons (in green dots) living in Delft during the seventeenth century. Some 20 buildings (in yellow dots) were also included. Two of Vermeer’s townscapes were pinpointed as standpoints and fields of vision (orange dots and lines). Whereas buildings were simply numbered in yellow circles, persons (both the artists in red and patrons in green) were indicated with their initials for quick referral to the extensive list printed on the reverse side of the map.
The Dutch edition of the map was thus secured, but the sizeable body of new archival research still merited an English edition. The Delftsche Courant ‘s publisher however had no commercial interest in an English edition. Its loyalty was towards its own Dutch readers and not to an international public. Dr. Albert Blankert of the Johannes Vermeer foundation offered welcome financial support, which made the English edition possible after all.
Thus the map was designed and printed, not only as a newspaper supplement in the Delftsche Courant but also as separate high quality editions in Dutch and English. On March 30, 2001 both of these maps were presented to a number of dignitaries during a short ceremony in the Mayor’s office at the Delft City Hall. Dating from 1620, this City Hall was a fitting historical setting for this project - for some three hundred and thirty years ago a group of Delft mayors, probably meeting in this very room, had decided to produce the large, costly and impressive Kaart Figuratief map.
On March 31, 2001 the double-sided map with its two full pages of listings of artists and patrons on the reverse side were printed as a supplement in the Delft newspaper and distributed to all its subscribers.
Due to its importance in teaching local history to Delft school children two laminated copies of the high quality Dutch edition were donated by the Johannes Vermeer foundation to fifty-five schools in Delft. Two complimentary copies of the map in the English edition were later distributed worldwide to eighty major art history libraries and art museums. Learning activity / Visual imagination

Although the map is both visually attractive and an important art historical source, it does not really read like a novel or a handbook. The sheer volume of unknown names of artists and patrons would soon confuse the general and even some initiated Vermeer readers. This map and its long caption list works best when used alongside a book on Delft artists. Being able to pinpoint these artists - whose names are often unfamiliar - would help the reader in memorizing characters and their location within 17th century Delft.
With its spatial grouping of artists and patron, this map also reveals the surprising social structure of the living conditions of artists and patrons.

Its use as a tool has also been secured by proper design decisions. The outer edges of the map provide a strong visual boundary, similar to those found in a 1950’s style of atlas map. The mapmaker’s legend is found on the right hand top corner. Graphic designer Rob Hofland placed this legend in a grey block and he also moved the text of the list of 20 buildings, originally planned for the reverse side, to the front into another grey block next to the legend. On the map itself he created the visual shorthand for two types of address dots containing initials. Each plain dot indicates an exact address and each underscored dot represents an address on a given street. All initials within both red and green dots are echoed on the reverse of the map where circa 250 individual captions are listed, stating the addresses of artists and patrons along with biographical details.

Patrons preferred living in houses built along the major canal Oude Delft and another canal which also runs parallel like a double spine from north to south. This district was the wealthy quarter of Delft. Other parts of town, especially the northern, eastern and south-eastern quarter contained the lower income houses.
Painters chose houses with a studio, which has northern exposure. They prefer it because that light changes the least in what is now called “colour temperature” from sunrise via high noon to dusk. This means that the hues and values of their oil paint can be recognized by the same colour of light all day long. Most houses in Dutch towns are built closely together. They are aligned in such a way that light only enters the house from either the street side or from the garden side. That is why the painter’s studio would be located at either end of the house. In any street, which runs from east to west, northern light can be found on either the garden side of the northern block of houses - or at the street side of the southern block of houses. This is obvious on such streets as the Choorstraat in Delft on which a remarkable number of artists lived. Please note that on this map the north is not on top but on the upper left hand corner.
Most of Vermeer’s works were created in his studio at the Oude Langendijk address. He lived there from 1660 or before, until his death in 1675- see the dot marked JV4. See chapter 4.2.4, on the Digital Vermeer House.

This map contains three precise addresses for Vermeer and two for De Hooch. To my knowledge, the map also presents the first exact addresses for the Delft painter Leonaert Bramer as well as those for many dozens of other less famous painters. It also pinpoints the location for two Vermeer townscape paintings. The exact spot of the building shown in his famous townscape The Little Street is marked, having been pinpointed in my recent article. Reading Vermeer’s largest townscape, The View of Delft, is also improved by information in this map. A long horizontal roof is visible on the left-hand side of this painting. It has now become clear that this building with its slender tower, known as ‘The Parrot’ was the home of fleet Admiral Cornelis Tromp and his mother - and possibly also of his father, the famous fleet Admiral Maarten Harpertsz Tromp. Finally the map presents the cream of the Delft patrons as well.

Full size images of the maps in the English and Dutch versions and the full text of all captions of this Delft map are available for free on the Internet. As an added bonus the complete list of all painters in the St Luke Guild, organized both chronologically and alphabetically can also be found there - with cross indexes and copious research notes on the homes of individual painters at the www.johannesvermeer.info web site. Evaluation

For the Internet user the first trial of the large size clickable Internet map with its hundreds of clickable points gives a positive feel. This user-friendliness is aided by the professional design of this map. As only HTML technology is used, the result of a click is immediate, showing a new page presenting either an artist, patron of a monument. Each one of these categories may also be accessed from three dropdown boxes.
Map and dropdown boxes are useful for the layman, often giving a short biography and one or more images for an artist. The site also comes in handy for the professional researcher because of the copious notes. Within the resulting page on one artist one often finds a network of hyperlinks to artists’ teachers, students, patrons, buildings or other art world connections.
I think this results in making the clickable version of the map quite intuitive, efficient and enjoyable.
The map certainly provides a step forward in knowledge and cross-connections. It presents the state of the art knowledge for the whereabouts of characters in the seventeenth century art scene.
The technology advantages of the Internet version of the map over the printed version are just wonderful. The material is available for free to all users and updating additional material and fixing small errors is possible.

No restoration ethics were involved except for fixing the lines on the Raue map when names of streets and canals were erased. Minute differenced may thus occur compared to the original Raue map.

This map, both in its printed form and in its digital form would work well in a museum environment, primarily in the Prinsenhof Museum, Delft. Strangely enough neither the Internet site nor the printed map have been mentioned in the major exhibition catalogue on Delft patrons which was published one year later by the Prinsenhof Museum, although copies had been donated to this museum.[23]

Evaluation by third parties

Upon opening the web site, Gerrit Verhoeven, director of the Delft municipal archive sent a critical email message, indicating that he objected to my use of secondary sources (this refers to the Obreen Guild list, the Beydals card index, the ‘Names of Houses’ card index, etcetera.) He stated that the Reading room staff would often not be able to properly guide those clients to the primary source material – being the actual archival documents presented on micro fiche readers.
I replied that my intention was to make the vast amount of secondary material available to a wide audience and that this re-publishing work seemed feasible to me within a limited time frame; within the texts on specific artists or patrons there are also numerous citations of primary documents within the municipal Delft archives.

Upon its publishing, the condensing of all of the information in the printed chart and on the Internet was greeted elsewhere by many positive reactions.

Marten-Jan Bok (of the Golden Age Department, Universiteit van Amsterdam) gave a positive valuation of the project.
Professor Charles Rosenberg, University of Notre Dame, wrote a private e-mail message in April 2002 in which he expressed that it was “Spectacular… an immensely useful scholar resource.”
Mr. Koot, Chief librarian of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam wrote of “a great success that this map could be published - this lavishly designed map with its extremely useful annotation”.
The Johannes Vermeer Foundation itself declared that the realization of the map “with its many layers of information of a topographical, biographical and art historical nature” was “an outstanding achievement”. This foundation was party to the project as it had agreed to underwrite the costs of printing and worldwide mailing a number of these maps.

Web site popularity

Users of this web site material would typically be either people interested in Delft art in general or a specific artists or patrons in particular. A flow of e-mails to address indicates that the latter group is eager to find out more information than I currently present on my web site.

4.2.4 Project ‘Digital Vermeer House’ developed by Kees Kaldenbach and Allan Kuiper, assisted by the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2001-2003) Parties involved

- Kees Kaldenbach, project developer.
- Allan Kuiper, industrial designer, Web developer.
- Johnny van Haeften Ltd was the major sponsor.
- Delftsche Courant was minor sponsor.
- Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, provided both research facilities and image material ; involved were Jan Piet Filedt Kok, Peter Sigmond and the Press office.
- Jan Somers, vice-chairman of the church board, Maria van Jesse church offered assistance during the Grand Opening when some 10 volunteers took care of the beamer and screen set-up and the catering for some 300 visitors. Interests

These were the interested parties:
The Delftsche Courant newspaper was co-sponsor of the Grand Opening Ceremony, on January 17, 2003. This newspaper upholds a tradition of well over a century of facilitating serious historic publications on local history for the benefit of its local readers
Johnny van Haeften Ltd. in London acted as sponsor at this Grand Opening. This fine-art dealer is known and respected in circles of art historians for his continuous support of art history research projects.
I initiated and developed this project, initially with a zero budget.
Ir. Allan Kuiper, industrial designer and Internet developer was involved with his own Digital Vermeer CD-rom project in 1997. He contacted me and decided to enter into this project. Within this project he took care of the intricate parts of the web technology.
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is the main repository of historical objects and a source of knowledge on Dutch art. Upon my request, the Rijksmuseum provided both research facilities and image material; Jan Piet Filedt Kok, Peter Sigmond and the Photo service and Press office staff gave decisive help.
Finally, Jan Somers, vice-chairman of the church board, Maria van Jesse church applauded the idea of focusing attention to the historic ground on which the church was built. He also supported the plan of placing a large ANWB tourist sign on the outside wall of the church (realized in 2003). Basic choices

As a digital design team, Kuiper and I worked together from the very start. They knew that by their effort a Digital Vermeer House could be created and they wished to develop it on their own, without outside financial help, with a zero euro budget. Finding out along the way what methods would be possible in creating a Digital Vermeer House in a professional and thoughtful way, they ended up presenting it for free on the Internet.
In the Internet movies they could not aspire to a Hollywood type of visual 3D rendering as they were limited both in time and money.

In creating the site they were in need of expert help from many fields; thus they contacted professionals who have assisted freely within the zero Euro budget: Henk Zantkuijl for architecture, Marieke de Winkel for textiles and dress, and many others who have assisted us in practical way during the last two years. The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, offered facilities for research and donated all online digital image material.
Conceptual thinking grew slowly with the increase of the number of pages growing to some 330 pages, and with the amount of images growing to some 280 in early 2003.
Developing a custom-built two-way location navigator, which would work well under both Explorer and Navigator browsers, took ongoing discussion and trial versions.
Our basic idea was to keep the project as a whole - especially the navigator - as clear and uncluttered as possible, offering to the first-time user a pathway both intuitive and clear. Learning activity / Visual imagination

Visitors to the Digital Vermeer House are automatically led into an English language screen. As the web site is bilingual English and Dutch, there is a flag option switch for the Dutch version.
The opening screen of the Digital Vermeer House gives a three-part image. On top is the horizontal yellow menu bar, which informs the visitor of the various web site menu chapters.
On the left hand side is a navigator column in which one finds the drawing of an image of the Vermeer House with plans and elevations, plus a 3D perspective below. Moving the mouse indicator over this image, the mouse-over results in changes. Upon mouse cursor touch, the blank rooms turn into yellow rooms, both in the plan and in the elevation, and the name of the room appears next to the plan. This allows the visitor to find a spatial bearing.

Actually clicking on this yellow field has a twofold result. It both turns the colour of the room from yellow into green and on the main right hand section a new page opens, containing a description of that room including a number of images. Most important are the complete list of household objects found within that room, all given blue hyperlinks to individual pages explaining with an image and a text description.
Also included in the left hand side navigator column, is a horizontal dropdown bar which lists the same options for all rooms but also lists a number of extra theme pages such as those on family life, midwifery etc.
When opening the site the main right hand side section also presents a number of options such as Internet movies and theme pages.
The navigator thus offer both an image and text based interfaces.
As a text writer and image editor, I did not aspire to developing new theories but to present a clear factual and interlinked approach of the rich available material.

The Internet project for the Digital Johannes Vermeer House was not switched on softly and quietly but it was instead presented with a big bang.
Switching a new web site on is usually just a technical non-event. However, in this case, press and some 280 visitors witnessed the Grand Opening of this web site project. This opening has taken place on January 17, 2003 in the Delft church, which now occupies the original site of the Vermeer House.
The audience listened to introductory explanations by myself and by Henk Zantkuijl (restoration architect, emeritus assistant professor TU Delft, who was also involved in the restoration of Rembrandt house, Amsterdam). The web site was then assessed by author Albert Blankert.

Music is important in Vermeer’s painted world. For the opening of the Digital Vermeer House there was a live performance of historic music. Chamber orchestra Camerata Vermeer played a selection of Triumph of Peace, Thalia’s Garden of Delight, Dances in A major by the Delft composer Dirck Scholl, who published this material in Delft in 1678. Specialists state that this is the only remaining published sheet music from Vermeer’s age in Delft.

Preciously little was published on the shape of the Vermeer house. In about the same period and completely unknown to me, mr. Warffemius had developed the same idea of visually reconstructing the Vermeer house.
Ab Warffemius published 'Jan Vermeers huis. Een poging tot reconstructie'.[24] At the beginning of this article Warffemius writes: "...until this day nobody has dared to make a reconstruction of the entire house."[25] Indeed at that point Zantkuijl’s drawings for this web site were finished but had not yet been published.
A comparison between Zantkuijl drawings and those by Warffemius show that they are very different: Warffemius drew the house much narrower and his annex contains an enfilade of rooms, which according to Zantkuijl belong in the main structure. It is up to the reader to weigh the merits of both sets of plans and elevations. The Warffemius text on the 1733 renovations is nevertheless quite informative. Evaluation

((((short version

for layman?
Intuitive, efficient, enjoyable?
New knowledge and insights?
Technology advantages?
Restauration ethics?
Museum environment?)))

The first impact of this web site was remarkable. The Digital Vermeer House received full attention in the Dutch and Belgian daily press and also got some air time on radio stations. Both main newspapers in The Netherlands and Belgium, NRC Handelsblad and De Standaard reported with an interview on the birth of the site.
BBC television made an hour-long documentary on Vermeer and included an interview about my web site in the 2003 broadcast.[26]
Web-site traffic. Internet files for the Digital Vermeer House have been distributed over two Internet providers. Statistics have been measured just over one month after the Grand Opening. Initially, the Webstat counter on the www.xs4all.nl/~kalden portal - which registers each new visitor staying for either a longer or shorter session of visits - recorded a peak of 1500 new visitor hits that first day; after a month this number has gradually tapered off to about 150-250 a day in April to about 100 a day in June 2003, which for a privately run web site with serious content is decent.
On www.johannesvermeer.info the Webalizer web visit counter registered the same 150-250 visitors each of whom browsed some 10 pages within the Digital Vermeer House on average.
On the Internet a fair number of other sites linked to the Digital Vermeer House, including the sites of the Dutch Embassies in Washington and London.

Response by third parties:

Ivan Gaskell, author of Vermeer’s Wager wrote on March 27, 2003 in a private e-mail: “I visited your splendid Vermeer House website soon after it opened: Congratulations!”
Evaluation by Internet and art specialists: Gary Schwarz gave a positive verdict on this project.[27]
Art Historians Albert Blankert and Marten-Jan Bok, were present at the Grand Opening of the Digital Vermeer House. Blankert gave a speech.
Stuart Talbot, a London dealer in scientific instruments, wrote an email on 30 April 2003: “This is a most enthusiastic response to your web site www.johannesvernmmeer.info which I found absolutely stunning.”


[1] I have subsequently donated this archive to the library of the Royal Collection of Paintings, Mauritshuis, The Hague.
[2] When it comes to 17th C plans of Delft one soon notices that all maps - whether it be maps by Blaeu, Janssonius or De Witt - as well as the much larger and finer detailed Figurative Map ('Kaart Figuratief') - are all in fact abstractions or in other words: reductions from reality. Within a given segment of a regular street or a street, which runs along a canal - the number of houses which has been engraved from corner to corner, from side street to side street, is always smaller than the actual situation. The general shape of the blocks of houses however has been engraved reasonably accurately.
Within the framework of this project no attempt has been made to alter or correct the map - with the exception of one building. This is the building with the extremely long roof on Vermeer's painting: the brewery 'The Parrot' which can be seen on the 'Figurative map'. This building contains the slender tower, which stands out in Vermeer's painting. In the 20th C. a similar tower has been rebuilt (I think in quite the wrong spot) as a salute to Vermeer! As the map by De Witt does not show a large brewery but a simple small house this item could not be retained. We chose to insert the building shape from the 'Figurative Map' of 1678, which is very large and detailed.
[3] www.johannesvermeer.info - see section Delft Artists and Patrons.
[4] Compare with images in Virtual Archaeology 1997 which first appeared in an Italian edition in 1996.
[5] Private message. I am indebted to Edward Verbree and the board of the Sub-faculty of Geodesy.
[6] I am indebted to the Department of Industrial Design of the faculty OCP (Design Engineering and Production) of the Delft University of Technology for conceiving and supporting this project - and for hosting the QuickTime movies. Thanks to student-assistant Petrik de Heus who diligently worked with Canoma. Major thanks to assistant professor Aldo Hoeben supervising the execution of the project, for editing the animations and producing the internet-interface. He also put in many hours at his own design agency, studio PKO.
The team of Industrial Design people which brought this ground breaking project slowly to fruition and into production phase during the years 1998-2001 consisted of Kees Jorens, Kees Overbeeke and Pieter-Jan Stappers. Thanks to Onno van Nierop for making the electronic scans from the original art works at the Municipal Archive who gave their full cooperation. The resulting QuickTime movies - some of which which still need touching up here and there - are available online at http://www.io.tudelft.nl/id-studiolab/vermeer
[7] For more information about Canoma, see http://www.canoma.com.
[8] Mike Lee’s weblog: Sunday, September 22, 2002, downloaded november 2002.
“One of the ways to do this kind of virtual scene on a small scale would be to compile some frames of the buildings from different angles as an object movie in QuickTime VR format. Then I remembered a product I played with a few years ago from MetaTools called Canoma. Using the product on your Mac or PC (now acquired by Adobe and currently off the market), you could import any still image into the program and project it on to some primitive geometry inferred from key reference points in the scene. If you just created a cube object behind a photo of a house while establishing a ground plane, upon rendering, you would be able to magically fly into the scene and look around from any angle. Obviously where there was no image data, such as the sides or back of the house, the 3D surfaces there would be blank, but the program did a passable job of interpolating color fills and shading in those areas. If you merged two or more photos into the 3D scene, you could achieve some astounding results. I assumed someone had to have applied this technique to historical images, and a check in Google confirms this. Amsterdam art historian Kees Kaldenbach recently collaborated with the Delft Institute of Technology to create a 3D walkthrough of 17th century Delft as illustrated in Johannes Vermeer's painting "View of Delft." The project, Walking with Vermeer put Canoma into service to dimensionalize and merge several historical prints of the south gates of Delft, which resulted in an incredible virtual walkthrough. The longest QuickTime movie, "A walk by Rotterdam and Schiedam Gates in Delft" is well worth the five megabyte download. It's linked to the right-most of the five icons in the map on the "Walking with Vermeer" home page.”

[9] Private e-mail , 11 Oct 2002 from assistant professor Aldo Hoeben.
[10] Prentice Hall site visited in December, 2001.
[11] www.johannesvermeer.info
[12]. Franits 2001: 241. This map has been marred by production errors. A book review is online at http://www.hnanews.org/2002/Frantis.html [please note Frantis instead of Franits]
[13] Kaldenbach 2002.
[14] Kaldenbach 2001: 557-565.
[15] Liedtke 2001.
[16] Blankert 1987: 22-23. On page 22 the site of the powder storage is marked incorrectly. On page 23 the "Three Hammers" and the home of Maria Thins are erroneously indicated. For correct information see www.johannesvermeer.info section Artists & Patrons.
[17] Van Bleyswijck 1667 (-1680). Updated version by Boitet 1729.
[18] Montias 1989.
[19] Thieme & Becker1911-1950 and Saur 1992.
[20] Obreen 1877-1890; Hofstede de Groot,, 1897 ; Bredius, Unpublished manuscripts (RKD),
[21] In the Delft archives, information is accessed via microfiches showing hundreds of thousands of original hand-written index cards dating from the 19th and 20th century. These index cards refer to specific pages within documents. In order to protect the original documents from wear and tear ensuing searches are preferably made via microfiches of archival documents. The most important file in this particular research proved to be the Huizenprotocol (House protocol). This file contains thousands of handwritten pages from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century listing the various owners of real estate property. All names in the Huizenprotocol have been indexed on small cards, indexed via microfiche. Thus my search yielded some 200 names and addresses of artists and patrons. In February 2000 John Michael Montias graciously provided an additional list of names from his personal files.
A pre-WW II treasure trove in the Delft municipal archives was the Miss P. Beydals collection. Over the years this Delft archivist had compiled a separate indexed filing card system. It consists of handwritten notes on any artists whose names she came across by chance in various documents during her archival work.
Other rich sources in the archives were the Koopbrieven Huizeneigenaren (Homeowners’ purchasing acts) and the Namen van Huizen (Names of Houses). The latter file system contains tens of thousands of references to individual houses. These houses were known not by number but by name only until circa 1800. An example is the case of Vermeer’s patron Van Ruijven, whose house De Gouden Aecker (The Golden Acorn) on Voorstraat is now known as number 39. Sometimes the archives did not yield the desired information. Other houses owned by Van Ruijven could be identified within a given street but not as an exact pinpoint address.
Finally, unpublished manuscripts by the Dutch art historian Bredius in the State Bureau of Art History Documentation (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie) in The Hague also proved to be a rich source of additional archival notes.[21]
When this large amount of information on artists and patrons had been compiled, cross-checked and completed, it became clear that the total amount of words in the text and notes far exceeded the amount of material which could be accommodated within the covers of the Vermeer exhibition catalogue.
[22] Raue 1982. Mr. Raue kindly agreed to the use of his drawing but unfortunately the original line drawing artwork had been lost. We had to revert to a painstaking process of reworking an enlarged image from his book, and then deleting the many street names with which this map image had been filled.
[23] Schatten in Delft, 2002.
[24] Ab Warffemius, 'Jan Vermeers huis. Een poging tot reconstructie'. eleventh year book, 2001 of the Historical society Delfia Batavorum, 2002, p. 60-78.
[25] Ibid. page 61.
[26] BBC television, 29th March, 2003 at 7 PM London time, see 4.3.2 below and www.johannesvermeer.info
[27] In his email newsletter he mentioned the project by ”the unstoppable Kees Kaldenbach”.


1) Foreword
2) Introduction and terminology. houding, perception of reality, realism, illusionism and trompe l’oeil
3) Understanding Vermeer’s Perception of Reality; a Discussion of Characteristics
4) Brain and colour
5) Form as registered by the brain
6) Facial recognition, depth, movement, fine vs broad
7) Using this knowledge in studying and appreciating Vermeer
8) Workshop matters, Painters’ Supplies, Palette, The fijnschilder style versus the loose style, fourteen Qualities listed by Philips Angel
9) Naturalness, enticing the viewers
10) Delft artists influencing Vermeer
11) Vermeers Early, Middle, Late period. Camera Obscura
12) Vermeer’s World of Interiors: a Reality or a Construction
13) Landmark Vermeer literature (in print on paper form)
14) Digital Art History Studies and Presentations on Questions - on Perception of Reality in Vermeer Paintings
15) External CD-Rom, DVD, film material on Vermeer
16) Selected Bibliography

Contact information for Private Art Tours:

Menu of tours. See client testimonials.

Drs. Kees Kaldenbach , kalden@xs4all.nl

Haarlemmermeerstraat 83 hs

1058 JS Amsterdam

The Netherlands

telephone 020 - 669 8119

(from abroad NL +20 - 669 8119)

cell phone 06 - 2868 9775

(from abroad NL +6 - 2868 9775

Please note: All materials presented on this 2000+ item web site are original and therefore copyrighted. If passages are quoted (in essays, dissertations, books or other works, written or otherwise) then references must be made in the proper way. That is, the quoted passages must be attributed to the author, and the source of the material (i.e. this website) must be cited.

Written 2002-2003. Published online, July 17, 2011. Updated July 12, 2016.


"I detected one misprint, but to torture you I will not tell you where."
Winston Churchill to T.E. Lawrence, re Seven Pillars of Wisdom