A Painter That Can Teach Us About Simplicity and Ordinary Life -Johannes Vermeer: 1632-1675


He is one of the most famous Dutch painters to exist.

A portrait of Vermeer himselfImage sourced from singulart.com

Vermeer was a Dutch artist born in 1632 in a small and beautiful city named Delft. He hardly left Delft and had ten children. His career was never a huge success during his lifetime nor did he make a lot of money. But he is world-renowned now.

We currently live in a world full of fake glamour. The main role that artists have is to turn our attention away from the false glamour onto the most helpful and useful things. They can identify things we usually overlook but should instead focus a great deal on.

The Milkmaid”, Vermeeer, 1657.Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

A serving woman plating up bread and milk was not thought of as anything special in the late 1650s. When he painted the above painting, Vermeer didn't try to find a famous model who was well-respected. Instead he focused on an ordinary scene that most people wouldn't have given a second thought about. This is the type of artist Vermeer was.

“The Little Street”, Vermeer, 1658.Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

This painting right here best sums up the philosophy of Vermeer. It seems pretty boring though doesn’t it? It is one of the most famous pieces of art in the world. Its got a special place in Amsterdam’s great Rijksmuseum and is insured at a price of £100 million.

This painting wants to show us that the ordinary everyday life can be noteworthy and admirable. It’s a painting of a regular home with women cleaning, watching the children, and spinning cloth. It captures what life is really about.

This is an ‘anti-heroic’ picture: a weapon against false images of glamour. It rejects that glamour depends on luxurious acts of status, but on the simple things.

Vermeer dieed in 1675 in his early forties, having left behind one key message that is crucial to us now.

What we think matters is not urgent, or special. Most of life involves dealing with ordinary things, like doing the dishes, or cooking an average meal. Slightly boring things, to be honest. But we should focus on these average things, because they are most of what our life is about.

An appreciation of simplicity and formality.

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I am an entrepreneur from London with a passion for reading and writing about self-improvement, productivity, fitness, history, philosophy, and happiness.


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