Canvas Weave Match Supports Designation of Vermeer’s Geographer and Astronomer as a Pendant Pair

Johannes Vermeer,  The Astronomer,  ca. 1668,  Paris, Musée du Louvre

Two pairs of paintings by Johannes Vermeer are designated as pendants by Walter Liedtke in his catalog of Vermeer’s paintings. The canvases of one of these pairs have previously been shown to be from the same bolt, which is frequently an attribute of a pendant pair in seventeenth-century Dutch paintings. This paper provides evidence, in the form of a new weave match, that the second pendant pair identified by Walter Liedtke also exhibits this bolt-matestatus.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2017.9.1.17

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Blaise Ducos (Musée du Louvre), Elisabeth Ravaud (C2RMF), and Michel Menu (C2RMF) for providing access to the X-radiographs of the The Geographer and Jochen Sander (Städel Museum) and Stephan Knobloch (Städel Museum) for providing access to the x-radiographs of The Astronomer. The authors are indebted to Rob Erdmann (Rijksmuseum) for assembling the full painting composite X-radiographs of the two Vermeer paintings. Finally, the authors wish to acknowledge the enthusiastic support of Walter Liedtke in their years of study of the supports of Vermeer’s thirty-four paintings on canvas.

Johannes Vermeer,  A two-cm-square patch from the X-radiograph of T, ca. 1660,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 1 A two-cm-square patch from the X-radiograph of The Milkmaid (ca. 1660, oil on canvas, 45.5 x 41 cm, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2344; image from dataset available upon request from the RKD – http://english.rkd.nl/Services/image-sharing)
Fig. 2  The Fourier transform decomposes an image into simpler periodic visual patterns in a manner analogous to its action on sound waves (decomposing into bass, midrange, and treble) and to the action of a prism decomposing light waves.
Fig. 2 The Fourier transform decomposes an image into simpler periodic visual patterns in a manner analogous to its action on sound waves (decomposing into bass, midrange, and treble) and to the action of a prism decomposing light waves.
Johannes Vermeer, (top) The Geographer, ca. 1668–69; (bottom, rota, Frankfurt am Main, Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerien; Paris, Musée du Louvre
Fig. 3 (top) Johannes Vermeer, The Geographer, ca. 1668–69, oil on canvas, 53 x 46.6 cm, Frankfurt am Main, Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerien, inv. 1149; (bottom, rotated 180°) Johannes Vermeer, The Astronomer, ca. 1668, oil on canvas, 50 x 45 cm, Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv. RF 1983-28; (on right) corresponding vertical thread density maps with color bar specifying densities in th/cm (artwork from Wikimedia Commons)
  1. 1. See p. 23 for a statement of this claim about Rembrandt’s paintings in Ernst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” in J. Bruyn et al., A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. 2 (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1986), 15–43. http://www.rembrandtdatabase.org

  2. 2. Walter Liedtke, Vermeer: The Complete Paintings (Antwerp: Ludion, 2008).

  3. 3. Walter Liedtke, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer: A Case Study in the Computer Analysis of Fabric Supports,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 47 (2012):99–106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/67014.

  4. 4. Enst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” chapter 5 in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Oakland: University of California Press, 2000).

  5. 5. See Appendix 1 in Nicola Costaras, “A Study of the Materials and Techniques of Johannes Vermeer,” in Vermeer Studies (Symposium Papers XXXIII), Studies in the History of Art 55 (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art,1998), 165–66. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4262260.

  6. 6. Libby Sheldon and Nicola Costaras, “Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Young Woman Seated at a Virginal,’” Burlington Magazine 148, no. 1235 (February2006): 92.

  7. 7. Liedtke, Johnson, and Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer.” http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/670142

  8. 8. See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n3i0gSrnV8

  9. 9. See illustrations in Rutherford J. Gettens and George L. Stout, Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1966), 228.

  10. 10. Van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support.”

  11. 11. C. Richard Johnson Jr., Ella Hendriks, Petria Noble, and Michiel Franken, “Advances in Computer-Assisted Canvas Examination: Thread Counting Algorithms,” 37th Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Los Angeles, May 2009. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson

  12. 12. Ernst van de Wetering, “Canvas Research with Emil Bosshard, Remarks on Method,” Emil Bosshard, Paintings Conservator (1945–2006): Essays by Friends and Colleagues, ed. Maria de Peverelli, Marco Grassi, and Hans Christoph von Imhoff (Florence: Centro Di, 2009), 268.

  13. 13. In the conservation and technical art history literature: C. Richard Johnson Jr., Don H. Johnson, Naoto Hamashima, Heui Sung Yang, and Ella Hendriks, “On the Utility of Spectral-Maximum-Based Automated Thread Counting from X-Rays of Paintings on Canvas, Studies in Conservation 56 (2011): 104–14, http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/sic.2011.56.2.104; and Don H. Johnson, Ella Hendriks, and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Interpreting Canvas Weave Matches,” Art Matters 5 (2013): 53–61. http://www.artmattersjournal.org

  14. 14. Robert Erdmann, C. Richard Johnson Jr., Mary Schafer, John Twilley, and Travis Sawyer, “Reuniting Poussin’s Bachanals Painted for Cardinal Richelieu through Quantitative Canvas Weave Analysis,” 41st Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Indianapolis, May 2013. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson

  15. 15. L. van der Maaten and R. Erdmann, “Automatic Thread-level Canvas Analysis,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015): 38–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MSP.2015.2407091

  16. 16. van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” 96.

  17. 17. With the other three presented in Liedtke, Johnson, and Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer.”

Costaras, Nicola. “A Study of the Materials and Techniques of Johannes Vermeer.” In Vermeer Studies (Symposium Papers XXXIII), Studies in the History of Art 55:(Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1998), 165–66. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42622605

Erdmann, Robert, C. Richard Johnson Jr., Mary Schafer, John Twilley, and Travis Sawyer. “Reuniting Poussin’s Bachanals Painted for Cardinal Richelieu through Quantitative Canvas Weave Analysis.” 41st Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Indianapolis, May 2013.

Gettens, Rutherford J., and George L. Stout. Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1966.

Johnson, C. Richard, Jr., Ella Hendriks, Petria Noble, and Michiel Franken. “Advances in Computer-Assisted Canvas Examination: Thread Counting Algorithms.” 37th Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Los Angeles, May 2009.

Johnson, C. Richard, Jr., Don H. Johnson, Naoto Hamashima, Heui Sung Yang, and Ella Hendriks. “On the Utility of Spectral-Maximum-Based Automated Thread Counting from X-Rays of Paintings on Canvas.” Studies in Conservation 56 (2011): 104–14. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/sic.2011.56.2.104

Johnson, Don H., Ella Hendriks, and C. Richard Johnson Jr. “Interpreting Canvas Weave Matches.” Art Matters 5 (2013): 53–61.

Liedtke, Walter. Vermeer: The Complete Paintings. Antwerp: Ludion, 2008.

Liedtke, Walter, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson. “Canvas Matches in Vermeer: A Case Study in the Computer Analysis of Fabric Supports.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 47 (2012): 99–106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/670142

Maaten, L. van der, and Erdmann, R. “Automatic Thread-Level Canvas Analysis.” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (2015): 38–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MSP.2015.2407091

Sheldon, Libby, and Nicola Costaras. “Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Young Woman Seated at a Virginal.’” Burlington Magazine 148, no. 1235 (2006): 89–97.

Wetering, Ernst van de. “The Canvas Support.” In A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. 2, edited by J. Bruyn et al., 15–43. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1986. http://www.rembrandtdatabase.org/Rembrandt/Content/pdfs/CorpusRembrandt_2.pdf

Wetering, Ernst van de. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. Oakland: University of California Press, 2000.

Wetering, Ernst van de. “Canvas Research with Emil Bosshard, Remarks on Method.” In Emil Bosshard, Paintings Conservator (1945–2006): Essays by Friends and Colleagues, edited by Maria de Peverelli, Marco Grassi, and Hans Christoph von Imhoff, 257–70. Florence: Centro Di, 2009.

List of Illustrations

Johannes Vermeer,  A two-cm-square patch from the X-radiograph of T, ca. 1660,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 1 A two-cm-square patch from the X-radiograph of The Milkmaid (ca. 1660, oil on canvas, 45.5 x 41 cm, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2344; image from dataset available upon request from the RKD – http://english.rkd.nl/Services/image-sharing)
Fig. 2  The Fourier transform decomposes an image into simpler periodic visual patterns in a manner analogous to its action on sound waves (decomposing into bass, midrange, and treble) and to the action of a prism decomposing light waves.
Fig. 2 The Fourier transform decomposes an image into simpler periodic visual patterns in a manner analogous to its action on sound waves (decomposing into bass, midrange, and treble) and to the action of a prism decomposing light waves.
Johannes Vermeer, (top) The Geographer, ca. 1668–69; (bottom, rota, Frankfurt am Main, Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerien; Paris, Musée du Louvre
Fig. 3 (top) Johannes Vermeer, The Geographer, ca. 1668–69, oil on canvas, 53 x 46.6 cm, Frankfurt am Main, Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerien, inv. 1149; (bottom, rotated 180°) Johannes Vermeer, The Astronomer, ca. 1668, oil on canvas, 50 x 45 cm, Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv. RF 1983-28; (on right) corresponding vertical thread density maps with color bar specifying densities in th/cm (artwork from Wikimedia Commons)

Footnotes

  1. 1. See p. 23 for a statement of this claim about Rembrandt’s paintings in Ernst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” in J. Bruyn et al., A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. 2 (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1986), 15–43. http://www.rembrandtdatabase.org

  2. 2. Walter Liedtke, Vermeer: The Complete Paintings (Antwerp: Ludion, 2008).

  3. 3. Walter Liedtke, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer: A Case Study in the Computer Analysis of Fabric Supports,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 47 (2012):99–106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/67014.

  4. 4. Enst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” chapter 5 in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Oakland: University of California Press, 2000).

  5. 5. See Appendix 1 in Nicola Costaras, “A Study of the Materials and Techniques of Johannes Vermeer,” in Vermeer Studies (Symposium Papers XXXIII), Studies in the History of Art 55 (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art,1998), 165–66. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4262260.

  6. 6. Libby Sheldon and Nicola Costaras, “Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Young Woman Seated at a Virginal,’” Burlington Magazine 148, no. 1235 (February2006): 92.

  7. 7. Liedtke, Johnson, and Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer.” http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/670142

  8. 8. See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n3i0gSrnV8

  9. 9. See illustrations in Rutherford J. Gettens and George L. Stout, Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1966), 228.

  10. 10. Van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support.”

  11. 11. C. Richard Johnson Jr., Ella Hendriks, Petria Noble, and Michiel Franken, “Advances in Computer-Assisted Canvas Examination: Thread Counting Algorithms,” 37th Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Los Angeles, May 2009. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson

  12. 12. Ernst van de Wetering, “Canvas Research with Emil Bosshard, Remarks on Method,” Emil Bosshard, Paintings Conservator (1945–2006): Essays by Friends and Colleagues, ed. Maria de Peverelli, Marco Grassi, and Hans Christoph von Imhoff (Florence: Centro Di, 2009), 268.

  13. 13. In the conservation and technical art history literature: C. Richard Johnson Jr., Don H. Johnson, Naoto Hamashima, Heui Sung Yang, and Ella Hendriks, “On the Utility of Spectral-Maximum-Based Automated Thread Counting from X-Rays of Paintings on Canvas, Studies in Conservation 56 (2011): 104–14, http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/sic.2011.56.2.104; and Don H. Johnson, Ella Hendriks, and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Interpreting Canvas Weave Matches,” Art Matters 5 (2013): 53–61. http://www.artmattersjournal.org

  14. 14. Robert Erdmann, C. Richard Johnson Jr., Mary Schafer, John Twilley, and Travis Sawyer, “Reuniting Poussin’s Bachanals Painted for Cardinal Richelieu through Quantitative Canvas Weave Analysis,” 41st Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Indianapolis, May 2013. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson

  15. 15. L. van der Maaten and R. Erdmann, “Automatic Thread-level Canvas Analysis,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015): 38–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MSP.2015.2407091

  16. 16. van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” 96.

  17. 17. With the other three presented in Liedtke, Johnson, and Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer.”

Bibliography

Costaras, Nicola. “A Study of the Materials and Techniques of Johannes Vermeer.” In Vermeer Studies (Symposium Papers XXXIII), Studies in the History of Art 55:(Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1998), 165–66. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42622605

Erdmann, Robert, C. Richard Johnson Jr., Mary Schafer, John Twilley, and Travis Sawyer. “Reuniting Poussin’s Bachanals Painted for Cardinal Richelieu through Quantitative Canvas Weave Analysis.” 41st Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Indianapolis, May 2013.

Gettens, Rutherford J., and George L. Stout. Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1966.

Johnson, C. Richard, Jr., Ella Hendriks, Petria Noble, and Michiel Franken. “Advances in Computer-Assisted Canvas Examination: Thread Counting Algorithms.” 37th Annual Meeting of American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Los Angeles, May 2009.

Johnson, C. Richard, Jr., Don H. Johnson, Naoto Hamashima, Heui Sung Yang, and Ella Hendriks. “On the Utility of Spectral-Maximum-Based Automated Thread Counting from X-Rays of Paintings on Canvas.” Studies in Conservation 56 (2011): 104–14. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/sic.2011.56.2.104

Johnson, Don H., Ella Hendriks, and C. Richard Johnson Jr. “Interpreting Canvas Weave Matches.” Art Matters 5 (2013): 53–61.

Liedtke, Walter. Vermeer: The Complete Paintings. Antwerp: Ludion, 2008.

Liedtke, Walter, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson. “Canvas Matches in Vermeer: A Case Study in the Computer Analysis of Fabric Supports.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 47 (2012): 99–106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/670142

Maaten, L. van der, and Erdmann, R. “Automatic Thread-Level Canvas Analysis.” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (2015): 38–45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MSP.2015.2407091

Sheldon, Libby, and Nicola Costaras. “Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Young Woman Seated at a Virginal.’” Burlington Magazine 148, no. 1235 (2006): 89–97.

Wetering, Ernst van de. “The Canvas Support.” In A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. 2, edited by J. Bruyn et al., 15–43. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1986. http://www.rembrandtdatabase.org/Rembrandt/Content/pdfs/CorpusRembrandt_2.pdf

Wetering, Ernst van de. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. Oakland: University of California Press, 2000.

Wetering, Ernst van de. “Canvas Research with Emil Bosshard, Remarks on Method.” In Emil Bosshard, Paintings Conservator (1945–2006): Essays by Friends and Colleagues, edited by Maria de Peverelli, Marco Grassi, and Hans Christoph von Imhoff, 257–70. Florence: Centro Di, 2009.

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DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2017.9.1.17
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Recommended Citation:
C. Richard Johnson Jr., W. A. Sethares, "Canvas Weave Match Supports Designation of Vermeer’s Geographer and Astronomer as a Pendant Pair," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 9:1 (Winter 2017) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2017.9.1.17