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By sheer keenness of perception he sometimes rendered wonderfully well the general shape and size of a hand; this by indication of the way the light slid over it.

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He often drew heads well, as if they were still life. His accessories were delineated about as adequately as by anyone. There is occasionally a little faltering in getting one side of a jug even with the other side, but, practically speaking, Vermeer, working always from the appearance of things, delineated still life—chairs, crumpled rugs and his famous lion's heads—quite adequately. In respect both of the excellences and the limitations of his draughtsmanship Vermeer was decidedly a painter of old Holland.

It is fashionable to speak of Rembrandt — and his contemporaries as impeccable draughtsmen; Fromentin and Kenyon Cox, the latter an accomplished draughtsman himself, have written to that effect. Yet, as must appear to anyone looking sympathetically through portfolios of old drawings, a wild scribble by Cellini, or by almost any one of the baroque imitators of Michelangelo, contains more adequate suggestion of construction than can be noted in any Netherlands work.

This is not to say that the baroque scribbles are altogether good; one indicates merely that their makers knew something of anatomical structure, of attachments and flexions of muscles.

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They got at the drawing of an arm or of a torso from intimate perception of its construction, whereas the men of Holland sought to render it as it looked by studying its proportions and the effect of light and shade upon it. The latter got what they were after, generally, but their drawing was not necessarily constructive. The origins of this style can be seen as early as in the fourteenth century, but it became especially widespread in the fifteenth century. In architecture the style is distinguished by its use of antique ornament, particular the classical orders, and symmetry.

It was based upon the study of antique buildings and upon the only surviving Ancient Roman architectural manual, 'On Architecture' by Vitruvius. Prominent early examples include the buildings of Filippo Brunelleschi — , including the Pazzi Chapel and the Loggia degli Innocenti. Pictures should represent appropriate dress and settings and not modern scenes such as those of Vermeer.

De Lairesse believed that viewers would become eventually estranged by contemporary dress owing to continual change in fashion. In the edition of de Lairesse's treatise, Vermeer was cited among other "modern" Dutch masters whose art was destined to perish along with "the old Mieris" Frans van Mieris and "Metzu" Gabriel Metsu — Antiquity is a broadly applied term which refers to the history and culture of a period of Western civilization. It is primarily used in an art-historical context to describe Greco-Roman life and art in Europe prior to the decline of the Roman empire.

The literary, cultural and architectural remains surviving from Antiquity were particularly valued during the Renaissance. Artists might depict Roman ruins in the background or use classical inscriptions and Roman lettering within a picture. They also sought archaeological exactness in dress. It is generally believed that from the onset of his career, unlike many Dutch contemporary painters who considered themselves little more as artisans , Vermeer seemed to have conceived the role of the artist in its most lofty sense.

His first pictures were large-scale history paintings of religious or mythological subjects. These subjects were considered the most adapted for expressing the most noble goal of art : the elevation of the human spirit. For an unknown reason, soon after the first large scale history paintings, Vermeer abruptly began to depict contemporary interiors which, according to art theorists of the time, belonged to the "modern" mode considered inferior because only transitory values were expressed. However, for modern art historians , only Vermeer among Dutch "modern" genre interior painters was able to imbue paintings of daily life with a sense of timelessness and express the moral seriousness associated with history painting.

The most explicit testimony of Vermeer's elevated concept of art is announced in his ambitious The Art of Painting. Whether the allegorical message of the painting refers to the nobility of art or its capacity to bestow fame upon its creator is uncertain, it is clear that the work displays a knowledge of classical ideals which dominated European art theory, but which in the Netherlands had lost their hold on the great part of painters. As John Walsh pointed out Jan Steen: The Drawing Lesson , most twentieth-century ideas of art education are based on the modern assumptions that the painter's job is to communicate his subjective states of mind rather than to transmit traditional values, or that the artist ought to be independent, choosing a financially risky life on the fringe of society if necessary.

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These ideas would have seemed strange ideas to Vermeer and his contemporaries because "in our time painting has become primarily an intellectual or spiritual activity that is no longer constrained by the labor and discipline of imitating nature or expected to embody learning. Painting in the seventeenth century, in contrast, was practiced entirely within the social and economic boundaries of the system that supported it. There seems to have been no rigid limitation on the time apprentices spent in the shop.

Cennino Cennini recommended at least six years. The relationship between master and apprentices was very flexible, geared to the economics of the art market. Once the apprentice had become a master he could set up a shop for himself and take on his own apprentice or apprentices. The number of apprentices in a master's studio appears to have been directly related to his popularity, although guilds sometimes limited the number of apprentices he might hold.

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The system of apprenticeship first developed in the later Middle Ages and came to be supervised by craft guilds and town governments. A master craftsman was entitled to employ young people as an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for providing food, lodging and formal training in the craft. Most apprentices were males, but female apprentices were found in crafts such as seamstress, tailor, cordwainer, baker and stationer.

Apprentices usually began at ten to fifteen years of age, and would live in the master craftsman's household.

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Most apprentices aspired to becoming master craftsmen themselves on completion of their contract, but some would spend time as a journeyman and a significant proportion would never acquire their own workshop. In the Netherlands, boys customarily began their apprenticeship at the age of ten or twelve through the signing of a detailed contract by the father of the apprentice, who paid specified fees to the master to whose studio the boy was to be attached.

Although some female Dutch painters are known, they received training from their fathers or husbands. Training was sometimes harsh: the adolescent apprentice learned his craft, literally, from the ground up. He swept floors, ran errands and cleaned brushes each evening. He was obliged to keep regular hours, which made for a long day, dawn to dusk at a minimum. This made painting more time consuming and physically taxing than it is today. Paint, for example, was not sold in convenient off-the-shelf, ready-to-use tubes.

Each morning, the artist had to hand grind paints necessary for the day's work and no more. This practice, however, allowed him to create the optimum texture and viscosity for each paint and avoid wasting precious raw materials. Today, instead, artists use paints manufactured by specialized firms who strive for a uniform behavior across all paints.


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Among the other chores, during the Renaissance apprentices posed for both male and female figures; the use of women models was extremely rare and probably limited to the master's own wife or daughters. The apprentice sat for long hours drawing , and only once he had proved his mettle was he allowed to take a brush in hand other than to clean it. And even then, it was probably to fill in anonymous background foliage, secondary draperies of his master's current labor or to make a copy of another master's work. On the other hand, the master was obligated by contract to "provide instruction, to the best of his ability and as he himself practices it, in the art of painting and all that goes with it," or words to that effect, "without concealing anything" is sometimes added.

It was a recognized custom for the pupil's work to be sold as the master's. Sometimes the master signed his pupil's work with his own name. Even though the initial years of training taxed the apprentice's physical and creative energies, he acquired an intimate, hands-on knowledge of his craft with added advantage of being exposed to a solid business model. Training with a recognized master was expensive. On the average, the family of a young apprentice who continued to live with his parents paid between twenty and fifty guilders per year. Without board or lodging, the apprentice could disburse fifty to one hundred guilders in order to study with a famous artist such as Rembrandt or Gerrit Dou — , although highly productive pupils might be exempted from paying fees.

Some even received wages. If we consider that school education in the Netherlands generally cost two to six guilders a year and that apprenticeship generally lasted between four and six years, the financial burden of educating a young artist was considerable. The parents had to do without their son's potential earnings because everything he made was property of his master.

Evidently, the allure of social advancement and future earnings must have been significant for many families. Architectural painting is a form of genre painting where the predominant focus lies on architecture, both outdoors views and interiors. While architecture was present in many of the earliest paintings and illuminations, it was mainly used as background or to provide rhythm to a painting.

In the Renaissance , architecture was used to emphasize the perspective and create a sense of depth, like in Masaccio 's — Holy Trinity from the s. In Western art, architectural painting as an independent genre developed in the sixteenth century in Flanders and the Netherlands, and reached its peak in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Later, it developed in a tool for Romantic paintings, with, a for example, views of ruins becoming very popular. In the seventeenth century, architectural painting became one of the leading genres in the Dutch Golden Age, together with portrait painting, Pieter Jansz.

During the first years of the s, a small group of Delft church painters began to emphasize visual experience over fantasy.