What we know for certain about him isn’t much. Johannes Vermeer did not have a long life — he passed on at age 43 in 1675 — nor a particularly happy one, nor an illustrious one as an artist. He was born, lived, and died in Delft, Dutch Republic. He did have some minor local recognition as a painter during his lifetime; afterwards he faded into obscurity. Vermeer left behind no sketchbooks, journals, correspondence. We have no clue, no idea whatsoever what he looked like! His reputation has grown through time, and he is now acknowledged as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age.
What we can contemplate because of him defies quantification. Vermeer’s particular renown is as a master of light in the 34 intimate paintings now universally attributed to him. Civilization is a bit more refined because of his work.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
“Parts exist in contemplation of the whole.”
— Peter Drucker
Vermeer’s Pendant Paintings: The Astronomer and The Geographer use the same model and other elements, and are considered pendant paintings. The paintings are each approximately 20″ x 18″. Both portray the same man depicting a character who is dynamically and intensely engaged in his subject at hand. For various reasons, the identity of the model is considered possibly Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), a contemporary of Vermeer who was also born in the town of Delft. There is no documentary evidence for any kind of relationship between the two men during Vermeer’s lifetime; however, in 1676 van Leeuwenhoek was appointed a trustee for Vermeer’s estate. Both paintings were listed circa 1715 as depicting an astrologer. Years later, The Geographer character was referenced in paperwork as an architect or surveyor.
The Astronomer is in the collection of the Louvre museum in Paris, France. The book on the table is the 1621 edition of Adriaan Metius‘s Institutiones Astronomicae Geographicae; it is open to Book III, a section advising the astronomer to seek “inspiration from God”. It does not defy observation to believe that he appears to be thusly cathected.
The Geographer is in the collection of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut museum in Frankfurt, Germany. Scholar Serena Carr and others believe The Geographer depicts a “flash of inspiration” or even “revelation”. The drawn curtain on the left and the pushed-back position of the oriental carpet on the table are considered symbols of revelation. “He grips a book as if he’s about to snatch it up to corroborate his ideas,” Carr has noted.
Among many considerations, Vermeer’s pendant paintings offer us a glimpse into the civilized human brain. The right side of the human brain is considered the abstract “Big Picture POV” side of the brain, also called “ying” energetic. This is the natural home base of the architect. The left side of the brain is considered the linear “details of the Big Picture POV” side of the brain, also called “yang” energetic. This is the natural home base of the engineer. Most people typically function normally with one side of the brain or the other as the dominant home base or “driver”.
For a very long time, “ying” energy was associated with the female gender while “yang” was associated with the male gender; however, the gender classification is now properly viewed as obsolete and misleading for the enterprising spirit on the voyage of self-discovery and growth.
It is opined here that the fellow in each painting is experiencing at least a moment of metaphysical connection — which means the brainwaves must be flashing back and forth between the two sides of the brain at such an accelerated rate that the brainwaves seem almost stationary; significantly, vertically and horizontally at an identical “speed”, resulting in activation of The Third Eye, dead smack in the middle.
This is being “at the center of the beam”, and “out where the four winds meet”. Such is the doorway for the transcendental, the doorway of the Fifth Dimension — where the Enterprising Spirit is in the driver’s seat.
Learn more about Johannes Vermeer and his art:
VERMEER SITE (includes complete interactive Vermeer catalogue):
Discover aspects of your self: Visit a museum regularly!