Chapter 7: More evidence from rebuilding Vermeer's studio

Armed with dimensions for the room from the reconstructions of Chapter 5, it has been possible to build a scale model of Vermeer’s studio complete with miniature furniture and fittings. In this model a photographic plate camera takes the place of Vermeer’s camera obscura, its lens at the viewpoint and its plate in line with the back wall of the room. With this setup Steadman and colleagues have produced photographic simulations to compare with Vermeer’s originals. The process has served as an independent test of the geometrical work, and has allowed the examination of some questions of lighting, colour and shadow. In 1989 Vermeer’s room was rebuilt at full size, and dressed as for ‘The Music Lesson’, for a BBC television programme. The set incorporated a real camera obscura with a simple convex lens of 10 cm diameter. This gave an image of Vermeer’s painting at its actual size, sufficiently bright to film. Since the book was completed, a movie special effects team in California led by Jon Erland has built a computer model of the room.

Photographic reconstruction [top left] of Vermeer's 'Lady Standing at the Virginals', compared with the real painting [below left].

[Below right] Photograph of the set of the 1989 BBC film, dressed as for 'The Music Lesson'.

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