The book begins with an explanation
of how the camera obscura works. Chapter 1 follows the history
of the instrument, from the first references in classical and
mediaeval literature up to the 18th century. Different types of
camera are described. Some took the form of darkened rooms, booths
or tents; others were enclosed in boxes like photographic cameras.
The chapter ends with a question: how much did Dutch artists know
about the camera in the mid-17th century, when Vermeer was working?
Some evidence is provided by the memoirs of Constantijn Huygens,
secretary to the Prince of Orange and father of the astronomer
Christiaan, and by the painter Samuel van Hoogstraten’s book 'Introduction
to the Great School of Painting'.