Vermeer’s Science & Art

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Vermeer painted light like no one.  David Hockney first speculated that Vermeer achieved his effective effect via optics.

Quick Hockney detour:

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Enter Tim Jennison.

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Tim Jennison was obsessed- OBSESSED- with the idea that Vermeer achieved this effects using a combination of a camera obscura and mirrors.

To investigate the idea he created a precise replica of the original setting. Which as the founder of Lightwave he was able to in a way few could.  He also started NewTek, maker of the Video Toaster (largely made obsolete by After Effects).

Kiki detour:

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This is Kiki Stockhammer– she redefined the 90s “booth babe.” Heinous phrase but that’s what it was. Kiki was the face of the Newtek Video Toaster. What distinguished Kiki is she could tell you, in as much technical detail as you cared for, absolutely anything you wanted to know about the Video Toaster and the Amiga it ran on.

Back to Tim. Tim’s obsession included making, by hand, 16th century style windows.

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His work produced an amazingly Vermeer-like recreation of Vermeeris iconic “The Music Lesson.”

Vermeer,~1662, on the left; Jennison, ~2012 on the right.

Fantastic documentary of Tim’s process by Penn. Ignore the vulgar ads.

Tims Vermeer (2013) Full Movie – HD 1080p BluRay

Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.


The movie angered art historians, it disrupted their conception of what painting is. They confused art cricism with art making. Personally, I think the fact the he devised technology to render his view on life makes the work and the art even greater.

Hockney’s view:

David Hockney on Why ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ Doesn’t Make the Artist Out to be a Fraud

Tim Jenison, a wealthy entrepreneur from Texas, had never had an art lesson when he sat down to reproduce Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece, The Music Lesson. After four months employing nothing more than a dentist mirror, a brush and oil paints, the result is nearly as breathtaking as the original painting by the 17 th-century Dutchman.

Hockney-Falco thesis – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hockney-Falco thesis is a theory of art history, advanced by artist David Hockney and physicist Charles M. Falco. Both claimed that advances in realism and accuracy in the history of Western art since the Renaissance were primarily the result of optical instruments such as the camera obscura, camera lucida, and curved mirrors, rather than solely due to the development of artistic technique and skill.