Traces of Vermeer

About the Author

Jane Jelley is a painter of still life and landscape who became interested in the unusual technical qualities of Vermeer's painting, and in the arguments about whether or not he might have used a camera obscura in his work. She decided to make some experiments in her own studio to transfer images from projections directly to a canvas. Using historical painting treatises and authentic materials, she found a reliable solution that corresponds to the scientific examination of Vermeer's work. This solution provides answers to some of the puzzles Vermeer left behind. Her study was published in the journal Art and Perception, volume 1, issue 1–2 (2013). Jelley lives and works in Oxford.

Traces of Vermeer

# 027922


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Jane Jelley

In Traces of Vermeer, artist Jane Jelley probes the secrets of Vermeer's studio through a fascinating detective story written from a painter's point of view. The result of Jelley's practical investigation is an intriguing exploration of how Johannes Vermeer achieved his extraordinary, luminous paintings that are loved and admired around the world.


Jelley shows us how painters made their pictures layer by layer, and she investigates old secrets and hears travellers' tales. Her research provides exciting new evidence for Vermeer's use of a camera obscura and explains a number of puzzling features in Vermeer's pictures, using authentic painting materials and techniques. Even with the modern technology available, Vermeer's works have confounded the experts—but the clues were there all along. After all this time, now we can unlock the studio door and catch a glimpse of Vermeer inside, painting light.

  • Hardcover
  • 8.5 x 5.3 inches
  • 336 pages, 85 color illustrations
  • Published: 2017

Editorial Reviews

"Featuring wonderful illustrations, engaging prose, and a deep knowledge of the craft, this is a study in art history and methodology to delight an audience beyond just visual artists." —Kirkus, starred review

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