Johannes Vermeer, the 17th century Dutch artist who was the original 'painter of light,' produced one work of art that Hitler wanted for himself.
The painting by Vermeer that was so desired by Hitler is "The Astonomer."
It is an oil on canvas measuring 51 X 45 cm and was once part of the Rothschild collection.
In 1940 the German army invaded France and confiscated great works of art owned by Jewish families. Other art treasures that were seized and sent in the same shipment by train to Hitler were works by: Jean-Antoine Watteau, Francisco Jose de Goya and Francois Boucher.
The proof that Hitler claimed the Vermeer as his own is a small swastika stamped with black ink on the reverse of the painting.
After the war the painting was returned to its rightful owner, the Rothschilds, who in turn donated it to the Louvre in 1982.
Another painting by Vermeer that compliments "The Astonomer" is "The Geographer" which is slightly larger at 53 X 46.6 cm. It is believed that the model who posed for both paintings is the same man and could be the one who commissioned them, Anthony van Leeuwenhoek.
Vermeer is best known for his precise attention to detail and his ability to capture light. His (possible) use of the camera obscura is pure speculation as there isn't any concrete proof to support this theory.
I am fortunate to have seen the Vermeer blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1996. At that time twenty-one of the thirty-five Vermeers were shown.
Also included in the show were: "Girl With a Pearl Earring," "Young Woman With a Water Pitcher," "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter," "View of Delft," "The Little Street," "Allegory of Faith," "The Geographer" and, of course, "The Astonomer."
You can own a giclee print of Vermeer's "The Astronomer," available here from Allposters.com.
The Astronomer, 1668
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