Camera Obscura

Image result for officer and a laughing girl

Officer and a laughing girl by Johannes Vermeer was the painting that started the controversy.  The American artist Joseph Pennell first raised the theory in 1891.  It was during the 1880’s that George Eastman of New York invented a photographic process accessible to the masses.  The slogan for the Kodak camera was “you push the button, we do the rest”.  Eliminating the need for glass plates, dangerous chemicals and home-brewed photographic emulsions and fixers opened the process to the world.

Pennell noticed that the paintings of Vermeer had a photographic quality.  They had the kind of proportions you saw in photographs.  The Officer is twice as large as the girl.

Now it is widely accepted, but still unproven, that Johannes Vermeer used a camera obscura, a primitive pinhole camera, to sketch out his interiors.  Many versions have been used over the years, the best probably being the camera lucida in many variants, which is still in use today.

When you compare an earlier work, with a tiled floor, like Christ Healing the Blind by El Greco (1570) you can see the foreground is almost linear.

Image result for el greco christ healing the blind

How different to the distance created by Vermeer in his interiors, such as the Lady playing a Virginal (or The music lesson).  El Greco tries to create depth by having his background recede, but the foreground is flat.

Vermeer’s interior is bounded by a wall of the room, but he creates great space and depth in the foreground.  this is further enhanced by the perspective given to the room by shadows from the natural light entering the windows.

Image result for vermeer interior

Johannes Veneer was born on this day, Oct 31st 1632.

Change the world

Change the world

My No.2 son is embarking on a life changing journey.  Here in Ireland we have an optional “transition year” in secondary school.  It takes the focus off exams and gives students the opportunity to explore subjects, occupations and activities that may influence their life choices.  One focus is on voluntary work and charity giving.  It is great to see education that focuses on what you can do for society rather than racing blindly into a career path.

One of the greatest things you can become is a philanthropist.  Some start small and early.  Others take many years to understand that giving away your money makes you far happier than accumulating it.  Chuck Feeney followed in the steps of great American philanthropists such as John D. Rockerfeller and George Eastman.  Initially Feeney stayed in the shadows, secretly channeling his money through Atlantic Philanthropies.

Then Feeney had a revelation.  He realised that he could achieve more by using his position and his example to stimulate philanthropy in other billionaires.  So he went public and in the process he set an example for Bill Gates.  When Bill and Melinda set up their foundation it convinced Warren Buffet.  Giving is like a contagious disease, one that makes the givers feel great.

So I am glad to see my son step down the path of philanthropy in his own small way.  A tender sapling like this needs to be supported and nurtured and fed and watered.  If you would like to follow his journey he will post his progress on his own blog:  Gavin’s Kolkata Blog

If you would like to take your interest a step further and do a little of the feeding and watering then his charity crowd funding site is here:

Gavin’s Crowd Funding Donation Site

If you would like to help but don’t have the funds at present, a share, a forward, a comment, even a like helps keep things going.  But don’t “Like” my page, go over and like his 🙂