It is possible to reconstruct
the geometry of Vermeer’s interiors, for those paintings where
parts of the tiled floors are visible. This can be done by reversing
- in effect - the conventional process of setting up perspective
drawings. The actual dimensions of the room or rooms, and the
shapes and sizes of pieces of furniture, can all be calculated
with precision. This is because Vermeer depicts a number of recognisable
real objects — chairs, Delftware tiles, musical instruments, wall-maps
and paintings by other artists — which all survive in museums
today. It turns out that in ten paintings Vermeer does indeed
depict a single room whose dimensions are broadly consistent throughout.
He reproduces the furniture and maps at something very close to
their known sizes, allowing for perspective diminution with distance.
In one painting, ‘The Music Lesson’, Vermeer includes a mirror
which reflects his own vantage-point and a part of the back wall
of the room, behind him, not otherwise visible in any picture.
This evidence provides a measurement for the length of the room.
The dimension is compatible with the width in plan of both of
the houses in which it is believed that Vermeer may have had studios:
the inn ‘Mechelen’ on the Market Place owned by his family, and
the house on the Oude Langendijk owned by his mother-in-law Maria