Interior Spaces in the Age of Vermeer

Today’s Post by Mildred Alpern

In everyday photography, the art of the past may inspire with its treatment of light. The Old Masters knew how to paint its qualities. Vermeer’s Music Lesson is a prime example. Light is soft and diffused in his interior space. It streams from a side window. Even its play on a staid black and white checkerboard floor enhances by contrast the vibrant colors in the scene.

Imagine my surprise when I entered a pottery studio with my husband to watch him mold some clay. The room was busy with potters at the wheel. Shelves lined the walls and a bank of windows illuminated the room with a gradient glow. The flooring was a classic black and white checkered design. Resembling figures in a 17th century atelier, the creators were pursuing their art. There was beauty in the mundane scene and I photographed it from different angles.

I have inserted a replica of Vermeer’s Music Lesson into one of these scenes as reference. The other scene I converted into black and white to capture the determined concentration of the women potters working. Yet I did not neglect a close-up of my husband’s hands adding an ear to a head he was sculpting. After all, without accompanying him, I would not have imaginatively entered the Age of Vermeer.

All images were shot with the Olympus E-M5 Mark II; the women in both scenes with the M. Zuiko 17mm f/18 lens with an exposure of 1/500 sec at f/1.8, +1/3 EV, ISO 400; the clay head, with the Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm with an exposure of 1/50 sec at f/1.8, -1 1/3 EV, ISO 320.


Mildred’s books Winter Garden and Seedhead and St. Agnes Public Library Exhibit are available from MagCloud in print or digital form at most affordable prices.