oil on canvas, 98- 117,5 cm. – The Hague, Mauritshuis
Talking about this painting, some critics said that it is perhaps the first impressionist work in the history of painting. Marcel Proust enthusiasticly said that it is “the most beautiful picture in the world”. Praising aside, the painting is the zenith of the 17th century Dutch landscape painting, and, therefore, one of the greatest landscapes of all time.
The apparently simple composition hides some exceptionally interesting elements: first, it is highly remarkable the clarity, almost purity, with which Vermeer represents the buildings of the city. For this purpose, he probably had to eliminate several boats that without a doubt would be aground at the city's harbour. This highlights the vision of Delft typical architecture, which also constitutes a visual barrier that prevents the vision beyond the distance decided by the painter. All this clearly divides the composition in three levels: superior, which occupies approximately the 60% of the surface of the canvas, depicting the sky; the middle one corresponding to the architectonic visual wall, and a lower one, in which, next to the water, appears a small group of figures, painted –contrary to many others landscape painters of the time- by the painter himself. The painting's incredible precision and realism made many critics to suppose the use of a camera obscura, although this fact has not been confirmed.
Text: G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com