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The abstract qualities in art are those which are independent of a work's resemblance to external reality. The arrangement of lines , forms , tone and color , even in a painting depicting an aspect of the known world, can be viewed as a series of non-representational relationships. Such patterning has often been appreciated for its own sake; music without vocal narrative elements tends to be enjoyed in a similar manner.

From the late-nineteenth century onwards visual abstract or formal qualities were increasingly emphasized, analyzed and finally isolated by painters. Visual abstraction is not merely an aesthetic quest; it is a biological necessity. By reducing visual complexity abstraction increases perceptual efficiency allowing us to recognize objects, evaluate movement and orient ourselves in space with great rapidity.

Without abstraction the brain would be enslaved to the particular because it would have to recall every detail in order to make sense of the contents of the visible world. In daily life most visual information is redundant. The ability of the human mind to abstract may also be linked to the limitations of its memory system. Throughout the twentieth-century, the term "abstraction" was regularly summoned to describe certain aspects of Vermeer's style.

However, abstraction, which we inevitably associate with twentieth-century abstract painting, has no exact correspondence in seventeenth-century art discussion.

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The closest concept is that of idealization, by which classically-oriented painters sought to divest the world of imperfections and transmit fundamental religious and ethical truths that were considered the only worthy objectives of the art of painting. The fundamental difference between the two concepts is that abstraction seeks to extract an underlying "truth" of reality on a general level, such that it can be true of many cases, while idealization involves a premise, which can skew reality to a predetermined result making it potentially misleading.

In Vermeer's paintings shapes are abstracted, on a few occasions to the point of becoming unrecognizable. Volumes are reduced to their simplest geometric components. Complicated folds of cloth are untangled. For example, the block-like gown of the seated mistress of The Love Letter is defined with only a few essential planes, while the carpet covered table in The Music Lesson has been transformed into nothing less than a geometrical fortress, which may have entailed considerable manipulation given that such carpets were probably not stiff enough to produce such simple, structural folds by themselves.

Props and figures are often set perpendicular or at 45 degrees to the picture plane. The limp contours of real satin , which remind the viewer of the fragility of luxury, are "ironed out" into crisp, angular folds with sharp chiaroscural contrasts that can be more easily assimilated by the visual system. The dark blue gown of Young Woman Holding a Water Pitcher , whose inner creases and folds are barely indicated, is transmuted into a pure, bell-like shape which is understood only through its two graceful external contours.

The surfaces of objects are sometimes so abstracted that they are cleansed of their natural texture , for instance, the reflections that would be expected to be observed. Vermeer's abstraction may have in part been inspired by the generalized image of a camera obscura. Moreover, history painters had long simplified modeling , form and texture in order to create more universal visuals, and in almost every painting and drawing manual of the time painters were warned against getting lost in distracting detail. However, the true broadness in Vermeer's rendering is adequately appreciable only when his paintings are compared to analogous works of his contemporaries.

It may have resulted from a confluence of external influences, some of which just mentioned above, but type of unsparing, geometrically-based abstraction which so deeply characterizes his method mode of rendering must have sprung from the artist's deepest personal inclinations, as there is no real comparable rendering in painting of the time in neither the Netherlands nor the rest of Europe.

The abstract quality of Vermeer's painting may be so appreciated today not only because it is consistent with contemporary taste, but because, perhaps, abstraction reveals something of the mechanics of vision and renders assimilation more efficient, and therefore more pleasurable. Just as the brain searches for constancies and essentials, so does the artist.

In fact, a growing number of perceptual scientists hold that aesthetics are neurobiologically based, and that the artistic process shares vital similarities with physiological processes.

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Neuroaesthetics is a term that has been coined to refer to the project of studying art using the methods of neuroscience. Another academy, the Accademia di San Luca named after the patron saint of painters, Saint Luke , was founded in in Rome. The Roman Accademia reflects the modern notions of an artistic academy rather than a perpetuation of the medieval guild system.

Although not initially in direct competition with the local guilds, the academies eclipsed and eventually supplanted the guilds. The academy's training programme included instruction in perspective , foreshortening and anatomy, and it stressed imitation of the Antique , by way of drawing from ancient sculpture or plaster casts. Academics held that since art was a scientific and intellectual pursuit, and not a craft, art instruction should be systematic.

Drawing was considered to be the essential requirement for painting. Thus, the manipulation of the so-called porte-crayon was more important than that of the brush. The French Academy very probably adopted the term 'arti del disegno' which it translated into 'beaux art,' from which is derived the English term 'Fine Arts.

In the mid s, the guilds of Saint Luke , which had been in charge with regulating the commerce of artists and artisans on a local level, and to a certain degree the education of their members, had already had began to lose hold on painters. Instead, brotherhoods, whose membership was restricted to master-painters, began to spring up in various parts of the Netherlands: Dordrecht in , Hoorn in , Amsterdam in and The Hague in The Saint Luke Guild in Delft where Vermeer was born and spent his entire career was one of the few guilds in Holland that comprised the same trades with exception of the scabbard makers in as in Vermeer probably began his artistic training in the late s.

It is not known, however, either where or with whom he studied. In this period there are no records which testify his whereabouts. Various cities and masters have been proposed. Since his earliest works show certain affinities with the paintings of two established painters, Jacob van Loo — and Jan-Erasmus Quellinus — , both of whom worked in Amsterdam, it is possible he was sent there to study by his father , himself a member of the Delft guild.

Carel Fabritius — , considered Rembrandt 's — finest student, resided in Delft but at the time Vermeer would have begun to study when Fabritius was not yet a registered guild member. Newly accepted guild members had to wait two years before they were allowed to accept apprentices.


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Leonard Bramer — , a family friend of the Vermeers and one of the most esteemed painters in Delft, has been cited as a possible candidate but the elder artist's eccentric Italianate history paintings share very little with anything in Vermeer's work. One thing seems to be certain; Vermeer's master must have been versed in classical painting since his early works indicate an awareness of classical art theory and practice.

Accelerated perspective is an intentional exaggeration of perspective often in a stage setting to permit a shallower than appears actual stage depth. Accelerated perspective was developed in stage scenery in sixteenth-century theater productions. It shows objects as if they were farther away than they really are by diminishing their size or by elevating the visual horizon so that the stage appears is sloped upwards in order to accelerate effects of perspective diminution.

The term is also used to describe non-mathematically derived perspective that create an exaggerated sense of spatial depth see image left , drawing the spectator violently in the space of the painting.

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A control number unique to an object, used to identify it among the other objects in that collection. It is part of the numbering system encompassing the permanent collection of an individual or an institution, and reflects the transaction making an object a part of that collection. An accession number is assigned based on the order in which it was acquired, not on its kind, and typically consists of the year of accession and the serial number within that year.

Aerial perspective is a pictorial convention that enables the painter to create a forceful illusion of distance in a landscape by using paler colors sometimes tinged with blue , less pronounced tonal variation and vaguer forms to define those objects that are farthest from the viewer, especially near the horizon. The painterly technique replicates a natural phenomena that depends on the quantity of moisture in the air between the viewer and the objects. In order to enhance the effect of aerial perspective, painters depicted foreground objects with sharp outlines, brilliant or warm colors that contrast with those reserved for the background.

Aerial perspective had been firmly established as a mimetic device by the fifteenth century, and explanations of its effects were written by polymaths such as Leon Battista Alberti — and Leonardo da Vinci — The landscape in the background of da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra de Benci see image left provides an early example of aerial perspective. Samuel van Hoogstraten — , a seventeenth-century Dutch painter and art theoretician, took aerial perspective further and remarked that "it appears that [in nature] the air forms a body even over a short distance, and clothes itself in the color of the heavens.

Nicolas Tulp , even though aerial perspective is normally only associated with the great distances typical of landscape paintin. Vermeer did not make use of aerial perspective in his interiors although he was aware that warm colors appear to advance toward the viewer while cool color seem to recede.

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In three pictures the artist used a strong red for the figures in the foreground Officer and Laughing Girl , The Girl with a Wine Glass and Girl Interrupted in her Music , which make them appear closer to the spectator. The only painting in which one might have expected to find evidence of aerial perspective is the View of Delft , but it does not occur. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aestthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature.

Originally, that which pertains to the beautiful, as conceived variously by artists and, especially, philosophers with reference to noble aspects of experience beyond superficial appearance or mere prettiness. The theme preoccupied philosophers in ancient Greece, but the term itself first appeared in the eighteenth century.

It is sometimes still used to indicate a certain imprecise distinction between art and life, or as a rough synonym for "artistic. Why the concept of taste commanded so much philosophical attention during the Eighteenth Century is a complicated matter, but this much is clear: the eighteenth-century theory of taste emerged, in part, as a corrective to the rise of rationalism, particularly as applied to beauty. Against rationalism about beauty, the eighteenth-century theory of taste held the judgment of beauty to be immediate.

When used in relation to an artwork, it means that artwork was modeled on the work of another artist. It may either be nearly identical to the other's work, or differ to some degree from it. In design, to align is to line up type and other graphic elements on the same vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line.

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Alignment is the positioning of the characters in a line of type in exact juxtaposition with each other and with accompanying lines. Alla prima is an Italian term meaning "at first attempt. Today, alla prima painting is generally referred to as direct painting.