Bunny and I watched “Tim's Vermeer.”
In the documentary, Tim Jenison, wanted to paint a Vermeer, and he decided upon The Music Lesson. Now Tim is an engineer, an inventor and computer programmer. He is not an artist, and most certainly not a painter.
And he didn't just copy from the The Music Lesson painting. No, he recreated the entire room as it appears in the painting. He then mixed his own paints by hand—and by hand I mean “ground up the constiuent compounds and oils that made up paints in the 17th century.”
He then went on to grind his own lenses and mirrors, all to test a theory that Vermeer might have used some mechanical means of painting near-photorealistic paintings in the 17th century.
The results were spectacular! Tim, a non-artist, making a painting that rivals Vermeer himself.
It's worth watching to see the techique in action (the painting itself took about three to four months to do) and for the subtle visual clues that were found to exist in actual Vermeer paintings that show Vermeer might have used such a method.
BOOM POP POP POP POP POP POP!
“Hey, watch this!”
Fizzle. Fizzle. FWOOOSH THWACK-OOOM!
“Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!”
“Stop! Drop! Roll!”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah … tis but a minor burn. Man, that was fun! Let's do it again!”
Felice Ficherelli wanted a Vermeer.
Felice was a contemporary of Vermeer, an obscure painter whom he might have known, or might not have known—we really have no idea. This is all we know for sure:
- Around 1640, Felice Ficherelli painted “Saint Praxedis.”
- Around 1655, a near-exact replica of that painting appeared.
Could this second painting—the copy, the duplicate—have sprung from the hand of Vermeer? Could it be the magical #37? Yes, if you believe Christie’s Auction House, which auctioned that very painting yesterday for $10.2 million. (You just missed your chance to have your own Vermeer!)
Why would Vermeer have copied an obscure Italian painting? Copying was quite common then, not only as an act of training, but also for financial gain. So perhaps Tim’s theory was right—Vermeer was a copier.
But why would a painting—a painting that absolutely no one disputes is a copy of someone else’s painting!—fetch $10 million?
That’s a good question.
So far (part two) it's an interesting article about authenticity, duplicity and duplication. What, exactly, makes a copy of painting worth $10,000,000, and where you too, can get your own copy of a painting for way less then $10,000,000.
Bunny and I were some one hundred yards from the mall entrance when we passed a booth. “Their products are really nice,” she said. “I bought some a few years ago.”
That's all it took, the slight pause by the booth, the positive comment about the cosmetic products, the serious lack of other customers nearby to provide adequate shielding and before either of us knew it, we found ourselves talking to Rafael, an impeccably dressed man, about 5′6″—a bit on the short side, but beautifully proportioned, with a hansome face framed by dark brown hair and perfectly groomed moustache and beard.
Oh, he was smooth. Within minutes he had us holding a jar of facial peeling gel and I couldn't help but notice him slip a bottle of moisturizing cream into one of Bunny's shopping bags, since it was a free gift for buying the gel.
But it was his three attempts at demonstrating some other cream for the eyes that turned Bunny away, and thus I got hit full force with the magnificence of Rafael's personality in selling unisex cosmetics. I too, got the jar of facial peeling gel, and as a free gift, a bottle of men's after shave balm, despite my attempted explaination that I rarely, if ever, shave.
Rafael just took it in stride, and before I knew it, I was rubbing a sea salt body scrub in my hands as Rafael was lightly spritzing water over them. And then, we had a bag with two jars of facial peel (his-n-hers), one jar of moisturizing cream, a bottle of men's after shave balm, a jar of the sea salt body scrub, a jar of “energizing” body butter, a bar of sea salt soap and in my hand, somehow, a slip of paper with Rafael's phone number and email address on it.