View on Delft: ecosystem ‘city’

Vermeer, Johannes (1660-1661) View on Delft [oil on canvas]. The Hague: Mauritshuis.

By Jack P. Kruf

This painting of the city of Delft, made around 1660, is from the master hand of Johannes Vermeer. More than inspiring. I would like to live there if I am honest. In the time machine of Professor Barabas. Boom. 360 years back in time. Feels this way. As a huge fan of Vermeer I gave myself the book Vermeer by Karl Sch├╝tz as a gift. The XL version. Last week I bought one of the last copies of this first edition. Happiness can be so simple and be found so easily.

With View of Delft Vermeer created an iconic image of the city for me: the city as an entity, as the ecosystem city. The overwhelming and overarching cloudy sky gives the city of Delft the dimension that it is part of a larger whole, nature. It puts Delft in perspective. It humbles. At the same time, the citizens in the foreground remind you as watcher that the painting is also about everyday life. It creates the image that the city itself is comprehensive and offers a higher dimension to its inhabitants. That of a place where you belong, where you can live, love, meet and work.

View of Delft is for me a holistic image in which Vermeer shows us the multiple layers of the ecosystem ‘city’: citizen, group, street, neighbourhood and city. In ecological terms he shows organism, group, niche, habitat and system at the same time. And that under the clouds of a much larger dimension, the sky, the world. A Masterpiece. It leads to the need and the want of further exploration of the city as an ecosystem.