Surfaces and secrets: A spellbinding realism and intrigue Though numbering just 35 known works the oeuvre of Johannes Vermeer (16321675) is hailed as one of the most important and inspiring portfolios in art history. His paintings have prompted a New York Times bestseller a film starring Scarlett Johansson and record visitor numbers at art institutions from Amsterdam to Washington. Vermeer’s subjects focus on daily domestic activities from letter writing to music playing to preparations in the kitchen. The scenes astound with their meticulous detail majestic planes of light and with Vermeer’s extraordinary ability to draw out narrative intrigues. In such beloved paintings as The Young Woman Standing at a Virginal A Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid and most famously the enigmatic wide-eyed and enchanting Girl with a Pearl Earring Vermeer evokes not only the effects of substance and texture but also the many stories and secrets that reside beneath the surface. With key works and succinct accessible texts this essential introduction explores Vermeer’s leading place in art history and his unique ability to transform oil paint into a living breathing scene of human life. Norbert Schneider (b. 1945) is Professor of Art History at the University of Karlsruhe. His research focuses on art history of the Middle Ages and early modern times (and the history of genres of painting) the methodology of art studies and the history of philosophy. His numerous books include TASCHEN’s The Art of the Portrait: Masterpieces of European Portrait Painting 1420-1670 and Jan Vermeer: The Complete Paintings. About the Series: Each book in TASCHENs Basic Art series features: a detailed chronological summary of the life and oeuvre of the artist covering his or her cultural and historical importance a concise biography approximately 100 illustrations with explanatory captions.