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Vermeer's Mania for Maps

January 3, 2017

The Leventhal Map Center and the Boston Map Society invited James Welu, Director Emeritus of the Worcester Art Museum, to discuss Vermeer's use of cartographic material in his work. See the talk below, courtesy of WGBH.

No other painter from 17th-century Holland expressed a greater interest in cartography than Jan Vermeer. His detailed depictions of maps and globes coincide with the great age of exploration and mapmaking. This lecture by the leading authority on Vermeer’s use of cartographic material demonstrates that all of the maps and globes in Vermeer’s paintings can be identified, though few originals still exist. These cartographic objects and the ways in which Vermeer used them not only add further meaning to his allegorical subjects and scenes of everyday life; they also shed light on Vermeer’s working method, including his possible use of the camera obscura.
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (