• Free shipping to U.S. $15 Off - Use D7AR82
  • Free shipping to U.K. $15 Off - Use D7AR82
  • Free shipping to Germany $15 Off - Use D7AR82
  • Free shipping to Italy $15 Off - Use D7AR82
  • Free shipping to France $15 Off - Use D7AR82
Home / BLOG

The Scientists in Vermeer's Paintings


The Geographer

Johannes Vermeer
Oil on canvas
51.6 x 45.4 cm
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt

This work and Vermeer's other work, The Astronomer, were both painted after the model Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek. In addition, the two works are similar or related to each other in their general structure and detail. Vermeer has studied both geography and astronomy to a certain extent, and his knowledge of geography, in particular, is evident from the inclusion of maps in several of his works.

The Astronomer


In order to correctly show the geographer at work, the artist knew everything about the complex cartographic instruments and the basic methods of drawing and was, therefore, able to capture the most central part of the painting process. According to the analysis of the scans, some changes were made to the painting at a later stage.

The head of the man is further away from the window than it is now and looking down. The drawing tools held by the geographer were originally vertical, and the stool at the bottom right initially held a piece of paper but was later removed and the surface of the stool deepened in tone. 

The globe above the cabinet hints at the painting's relationship to The Astronomer, and there is an obvious signature of the artist on the upper right wall, one of only three signed works, the other two being The Astronomer and The Procuress.

The geographer was dressed in a Japanese robe with his head slightly raised and his pupils forced to contract under the sunlight, symbolizing that he was concentrating on his thoughts. Others believe that this is a divine revelation, leading him to hold a mapping tool in one hand while the other hand is already on the book as if to confirm the ideas in his head.

The Procuress


Popular paintings