Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Now what time was it exactly...

Today I came across an online article about using astronomical techniques to fix the time at which a photograph was taken or at which a painting is set. The example it examined in detail is Jan Vanmeer’s painting of his home city of Delft for which it established a date and time of about 8am on September 3rd 1659.


Jan Vermeer  View of Delft
Image: Wikipedia 

There is an account of the artist’s life and work, including a discussion as to his possible use of optical devices to assist him in his draughtsmanship, at Johannes Vermeer

I have known this picture from being a small boy as we had a reproduction of it at home. Looking at the Wikipedia article about the painting, which has a photograph of the city from the same viewpoint as it is today, I think Delft appears less attractive now than it did in 1659 - but then I would say that of most places. In the case of Delft Vermeer has left later generations an exquisite evocation of that city on an early September morning.