Vermeer and Tim Jenison

Johannes Vermeer lived 1632 - 1675 and was a Dutch painter who liked to paint domestic interior scenes of the middle class.


He had some success as a painter and had paintings displayed in the Delft and Hague.

But was forgotten soon after his death.

His paintings were rediscovered in the 19th century and since then his reputation has grown, and he is attributed as the greatest or one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden age.

He worked slowly and with great care.

In 2001 David Hockney proposed that Vermeer and others used optics and a camera obscura to create their paintings.

The camera obscura is a hole in a darkroom where the outside world projects upside down on a far wall.

Philip Steadman published the same independently in 2001.

In 2008 though Tim Jenison a famous inventor of our modern age,  built the Amiga computer graphics systems used in TV shows like Babylon 5 and Home Improvement (Tim “The Tool Man" Taylor), and builds TV cameras used by professionals today.

Tim thought Vermeer might have used a camera obscura with a comparator mirror. Using his proposed technique he re-built the same room with the same objects inside.  Then he built the camera obscura room and used a mirror to compare.  He was able to re-paint a dead ringer of the original painting.

Reaction has been outrage in the art word, that Tim Jenison is saying Vermeer wasn't a true artist and instead was just making a "picture", so it must all be a lie...  You see this new discovery doesn't fit people's preconceived ideas, so they don't want to look at the proof.

Speaking of which, an examination of original paintings of Vermeer shows that he copied colors perfectly on his painting.... EVEN the ones the human eye can not see.... how can you perfectly copy something you can't see?  Well using Tim Jenison's process you can.  The comparator mirror will make the part you paint disappear when you get the match correct... which lets you paint things that you can not actually distinguish with the human eye.... pretty much proving some similar process was used.

Due to the curve in the mirror, some lines can curve if you are not careful.  Examination of the original painting shows the scroll work on the Harpsichord had this slight curve error, showing that a mirror was likely used.

Many people like the preconceived ideas of how they think people would paint... but a lot of people also have their preconceived ideas about what the Bible must say, what God must want...

Acts 17:11
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

When the camera was first invented, we find that many people said, "Hey, that looks a lot like you are making Vermeers!!!!"

I think it is more amazing what Vermeer did with technology and using it to create masterpieces than if he had just painted them... in the same way we need to look at what God actually says in the Bible, not just believe what we think it should say, or what someone says it does.  We need to check ourselves.

© Vivian P. Kirkpatrick, 2015

Tim's Vermeer movie:

Tim's Vermeer interview on Triangulation: