VERMEER CENTRUM DELFT
This museum, which is just off the market square (but can be seen from it,) is certainly worth a visit if you like art. The building used to be the St Lucia Guild building, a guild that Vermeer and his father both belonged. This museum is the only place in the works where reproductions of all his paintings in true scale, can be found together.
The gift shop is very well stocked with a surprising array of goods as well.
Entry for adults 8.00 Euro
Opening hours – Mon – Sun 10am – 5pm
Closed xmas day and new years day.
The legacy of Johannes Vermeer is celebrated in a scaled reproduction of the building occupied by the Guild of St. Luke just one block off the Markt in Delft. With no more than 34 authenticated paintings and perhaps 10-20 gone missing, his work is ranked with painters with far more existing works ( Rembrandt's and van Gogh's libraries number in the multiple thousands ). There are no originals here, but each work is beautifully reproduced with educational and enjoyable descriptions for each.
Vermeer was a member and for a while a headman of the artist's guild in Delft. Guilds were trade organizations chartered by cities to govern all activities related to a specific trade, protecting the livelihood of its members from outsiders and settling disputes. St. Luke is frequently used as a name for artist guilds, as he is the patron saint of artists and is said to have painted the Virgin Mary.
Vermeer was born to a humble Protestant background but married a wealthy Catholic woman, Catharina Bolenes, With a family eventually including as many as 14 children with 11 surviving to adulthood, guild obligations, and his painstakingly slow approach to his craft, he produced no more than 3-5 works a year for which no drawings or commentaries survive. His very early works were religious but at some point he moved into the house of his mother-in-law and most of his later paintings of domestic activities were from the same room at the front of the house with light coming from the adjacent window. Surprisingly little is known about his life. Oddly, considering the fame of his domestic scenes in modern times, his earliest fame arose from a cityscape of Delft (image 4). Painted only 7 years after the 1654 Deflt Explosion which killed over a hudred and wounded many more as well as destroying much of the city, it showed that Delft had recovered and rebuilt and was ready for business. His death at only 43 is stated to have followed a day and a half of 'frenzy', perhaps meningitis or encephalitis, although his widow left with eleven kids, ten minors, and no appreciable assets ( no 401k, no Roth IRA), attributed it to overwork and financial and family-related stress.
Unlike with the self-obsessed Rembrandt, there is only one questionable self-portrait of Vermeer - from the early work The Procuress ( generally Vermeer avoided salacious topics). The Dutch Masters often portrayed themselves in a conventionalized manner - on the edge of the picture, facing out, with a fancy hat such as a beret, smiling, and holding a glass of liquor or a lute - The Procuress has them all - check the smiling man in the left upper corner.
Vermeer Center - Works and Work
The ground floor of the Vermeer Center houses the obligatory museum store, a small unpopulated cafe, and the service rooms.
On the first floor, beautiful copies of each of Vermeer's works is accompanied by an informative description and discussion. Vermeer is acknowledged as the "Master of Light", the so-called Dutch Light, with the beautiful use of the famed window in his mother in law's house evident in so many of his domestic scenes but also in his "View of Delft". But as this floor demonstrates there is so much more - the emphasis is on love and the symbolism in his paintings. It is hard to remember all the details. As an example, in The Milkmaid ( in my Amsterdam Rijksmuseum review ), both the Dutch Stove and the heater on the floor have wide open mouths, symbolic of female spirituality and well-known in Vermeer's era.
The remarkable third floor recreates a modern version of Vermeer's workplace with a discussion of his craftsmanship, again overwhelming in detail. His domestic scenes often seem simple, yet each is perfect in perspective. Some of his works actually show where tiny pins had been placed to guide the painting. His materials for paint are laid out, including the very expensive blue lapiz lazuli and aquamarine which he used more than any painter of his time. As a product of his era, when Holland was the economic center of the world, at least six of his works feature a map or globe considered marks of wealth for people of that time. It is said that his most famous and beloved work, the subject of a novel and a movie, The Girl With the Pearl Earring, also originally featured a map later erased.
Allegory of Faith (image 3) is far from the most beloved Vermeer work, yet it like all the others has been sliced and diced by art experts and symboism freaks into the most minute fragments. The figure representing the Catholic Church is likened to that of Mary Magdelene in the background painting, The Crucifixion by Jordaaens, except she is obscured in the picture. Her right foot rests on a globe ( perhaps the same one as in The Geographer ) to show that Faith has the world under her feet. Nearby, Satan depicted as the Snake bleeds to death, crushed by a slab - the stone on which Jesus ordered Peter to erect his church. Even the ornate tile floor and the gold encrusted leather panel are felt symbolic of a scene from one of the clandestine RC churces. Nothing goes without comment in a Vermeer.
There is so much to learn about Johannes Vermeer and his works at the Vermeer Center, and as one of my favorite masters, close to two hours passed in seeming seconds. And best, it is included free ( unlike much of Delft ) with the Museumkaart.
Maria van Jessekerk
Neo-Gothic Roman-Catholic parish church.
The Maria van Jesse church used to be called Sint Jozef church. In the 19th century the Delft area was split into two parishes - the St. Hippolytus parish in the north and the St. Jozef parish in the south.
Later, when the suburbs developed, new parishes were also formed.
As fewer people lived in the centre of town and because the number of churchgoers diminished, the two parishes were merged into the Maria van Jesse parish in 1971.
The Sint Hippolytus church at Voorstraat was demolished and the Sint Jozef church was given the new name Maria van Jesse church.
The Maria van Jessekerk is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1pm - 4.30pm in the periode of May - September. From October - April the church is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 2pm - 4pm. The Chapel in the Jozefstraat is open daily.
Around 1505 the house of the very wealthy Jan de Huyter, he was chairman of the polder board of Delft, was furnished with a façade of natural stone and a tower. In the 16th century the so-called Huyter House was the richest house of Delft. It was situated at Oude Delft 167.
After the house of the Spanish minded grandchild Jan de Huyter had been forfeited in 1572, it was used during five years by the Hof of Holland. Since then different owners came and went amongst whom the city of Delft. In1645 the Huyterhuis was bought by the Hoogheemraadschap of Delfland (Polder Authorities). The front façade is decorated with numerous little monsters and hop bells. The tower has a beautifully gilded weathervane which depicts a mermaid.
You can watch my 2 min 13 sec Video Delft in the evening out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Remains of the old citywall: "Bagijne"-tower
In medieval times the town Delft (then one of the larger and most important within the Netherlands, had a citywall surrounding the town and defending it. Three of the gates have been surviving the centuries of which the watergate (Oostpoort) is the most well known. Another one stands in the Northern corner of where once the citywalls were. Now the walls have been torn down, when in late 18th and 19th century they became obselete, due to new weapons and warfare and the expansion of the town beyond the medieval defensive system. Close to the railroad on the Westflanks of town another silent reminder of these works, the hidden "Bagijne"-tower near windmill "De Roos". It was built here around 1500 and restored in 1967.
If you can't take the pressure ... let it flow ...
The watertower of Delft is a significant building just oustide the old city centre. These towers were built in the 19th century to create the first water pipe system within Delft. Realisation that clean water was the primary health care business for the future, many places in the Netherlands ran to a new system that concisted of piping throughout the town that provided water in several places and for everyone. To deliver the water the pipes had to be put under pressure and the local storage and pressure became a typical watertower, that is not only a monument now in Delft. Machines later took over the task and the tower is now under review for a possible new function. Talks are that it could be a climbing tower, but this has not been approved yet.
Saint Hippolytus chapel of the holy spirit
Meanwhile we should not forget the other side of the canal, where also interesting historical buildings are situated. In the first years of the 15th century this little church was built as house of prayer for the nearby convent of the holy Spirit. This charity institute did not belong to any then known religious group, though was related to Roman Catholicism and was ment to be a refigee for women, to find peace and spiritual blessing. After the reformation the church became part of the girl's orphinage and after that even a while the weapon's storage for the local regiment. In the 20st century it became again a Catholic church and known as the Saint Hippolytus chapel.
The house of the V.O.C.
Prosparity to the Netherlands came in an explosive growth after the V.O.C (Verenigde Oost-Indische Company) was founded. This first company in the world consisted of six main towns that formed a trading treaty in 1602, which was based on shares (stocks). The stockholders were (in the first century) the towns themselves, bringing ggreat wealth to them. Delft was one of these towns. Now-a-days one might say, but Delft doesn't have a seaport, which is comepletely right. But in Rotterdam the old harbour is called "Delfhaven" and used to be the harbour of Delft, after which canals connecting to this place took care that all the goods were stored within the city itself. Only in 1886 this harbour became part of Rotterdam. Here also the administration of the V.O.C. was seated in the "Oost Indische" (East Inidian) House. In 1631 the houses were purchased and turned into the Delft administration, decorating the outside with significant signs appointing to the mighty company that since then was based here.
From "Vondelingenhuis" to "Inn for the Homeless"
This remarkable 15th century building along the canal has had it's share of functions throughtout the time. The original place was, as one can clearly see in the many lukes and the lifting bench on top of the building, a storehouse for goods. Later it became known as "Vondelingenhuis" ("foundling" or abandonded children house) as well as the "Heilige Geest-huis" (house of the holy spirit). Now-a-days it actually still takes care of "foundlings", as the "Stadsherberg" is using the building for sheltering the homeless people of Delft.
The rise and fall and rise of the Catholics
Roman Catholic relgion is - after the natural (pagant) religions throughout Europe, the first widely spread believe. However, during the reformation the church became discriminated, even in the new Republic that started out as being a place where freedom of religion stood high on the list. Churches were abandoned or simply "reformed" into one of the many protestant christian religious groups. However, centuries later, some churches fell back into Catholic hands or, when this was not volunteraly offered, the Roman Catholics descided to built a complete new church. thus was the case in Delft, where the Saint Hoppolytus chapel was not large enough to house the two RC-parishes that appeared after the reformation times. The Saint Jozef parish, hiding out in a little church inside a canalhouse in the same named street, started the construction of a large basilica in 1733. The church became enormous and realised a bounding between the two Catholic parishes of Delft, re united the people again. Dispute however was the name, as one group always was in favour of the original Saint Hippolytus patriot saint, and the others stuck to Saint Jozef. Eventually the new church was named "Maria van Jesse" and it's two towers rise up in the sky, forming a graceful silouet over the tops of the Markt houses.
Gemeenlandshuis van Delfland
very large and luxurious late-gothic private house with stone facade and a nice turret. built for Jan de Huyter.
largely about 1505. since 1645 seat of the Dyke Convervancy Board of Delfland. Coats of arms above the entrance designed by Pieter Post (1652).Related to:
- Historical Travel
On arrival at the Market Square, I found a big Market. As it was later in the day when I arrived, some of the stalls were in the process of packing up. Evidently, it is held EVERY THURSDAY, and there are about 150 stalls. Also on a Thursday, is the FLOWER MARKET, which is at Brabantse Turfmarket in the inner city.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Care for a dance?
It was the last shot I took of Delft. Luggage in one hand, camera in the other, I was nearing the station when I couldn't help but notice this neat bit of architecture.
As you would have already guessed, it's the local dance hall, should you be so inclined.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The good, the bad and the ugly
Wandering without itinerary and keeping your eyes open can lead to many interesting spots, some of which I've included here.
The first shot was a plaque I found on a wall. No-one I spoke to knew what it represented but eventually it represented a golden bale which is where the money came from to build the original house here, i.e. trading in grain.
Picture 2 is my favourite sign. Fairly obviously it was hanging over the bookshop in Delft. I loved it.
Picture 3 shows the front of the local synagogue and picture 4 shows an alley heading towards the station. Not the sort of thing you see on tourist brochures.
Picture 5 came from down where I shot the ship on the Oostsingel. It was a pool of stagnant water that, somewhat surprisingly, had been chosen by a couple of ducks as their abode. I thought that with a little more foresight it could have been a lovely nature park. Shame really, but not everything's perfect all the time.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
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Koepoortplaats 3, Delft, 2612 RR, The Netherlands
Good for: Families
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