Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-69)
The Kitchen Maid, 1651
Oil on canvas, 78 x 64 cm
Nationalmuseum Stockholm
Johannes Vermeer (1632-75)
The Milkmaid, c.1660
oil on canvas, 45.5 x 41 cm
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Two of the greatest artist of all time lived 64 km apart from each other and probably did not know one another.
Both painted household maids instead of princesses in fancy silk dresses.
Rembrandt was 45 when he painted The Kitchen Maid in 1651 in the bustling metropolis of Amsterdam.  
About nine years later the 28 year old Vermeer painted The Milkmaid in the small town of Delft. The Netherlands was a very rich country then. More people could read there than in any other place in the world.  

Do the two young women look content?
In one painting the woman looks straight at us and it feels as though one could talk to her.
In the other painting the woman looks down on her chore with a little smile.  
Would you like to taste the bread pudding the milkmaid is preparing?
Both women have big, strong hands.  Who's hands are sunburned?
Which picture was painted on a dark ground and which one on a light ground?   
How many colors does each artist use? 
Rembrandt placed this painting in the window of his house to trick passersby.   He wanted them to think it was a real person.  Do you think his trick worked?
Where does the golden light come from? The brushstrokes are swift and sure and create a warm atmosphere.  She is leaning forward and relaxing her head in her hand.  Is she tired from her work?
There are three tiles behind a foot warmer.  Find one of Cupid and one of a single man.   Could those tiles be a hint that the milkmaid is in love? Is the kitchen elegant or simple?
Zoom in on a broken window pane and the holes in the wall. 
The light shining through the window casts it's shadow and creates contrasts.  Can you see the outside?
Vermeer applies many layers of paint.  At the end he dabs thick dots of highlights.
Rembrandt painted 600 paintings and Vermeer painted 32.  Both were poor at the end of their lives. Do you like one painting more than the other-why? Who took longer to paint his picture?
Let me know how you feel on: www.oldmastersrock.com

1 comment:

  1. Prefer Vermeer, his subjects, his superb detail, colors