Over 100 years of speculation
and controversy surround claims that the great seventeenth-century
Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer, used the camera obscura to create
some of the most famous images in Western art.
This intellectual detective story
starts by exploring Vermeer's possible knowledge of seventeenth-century
optical science, and outlines the history of this early version
of the photographic camera, which projected an accurate image
for artists to trace. However, it is Steadman's meticulous reconstruction
of the artist's studio, complete with a camera obscura, which
provides exciting new evidence to support the view that Vermeer
did indeed use the camera.
These findings do not challenge
Vermeer's genius but show how, like many artists, he experimented
with new technology to develop his style and choice of subject
matter. The combination of detailed research and a wide range
of contemporary illustrations offers a fascinating glimpse into
a time of great scientific and cultural innovation and achievement
'Vermeer's Camera' is a book by
Philip Steadman, published by Oxford University Press. It is published
in paperback in April 2002. ISBN: 0-19-280302-6. Price £10.99
in UK, $16.95 in USA. The hardback is now out of print.