|Vermeer spent his whole life in Delft, where he worked from 1653 until his death in 1675. In an artistic career spanning 22 years he produced only a small oeuvre. We know 36 paintings by his hand, most of which are world-famous.
Vermeer began as a painter of biblical and mythological representations (e.g. Diana and her nymphs). Soon, however, he began to paint scenes of contemporary life, usually interiors with one or two figures. We also know two townscapes by his hand (View of Delft in the Mauritshuis and The little street in the Rijksmuseum), as well as a couple of paintings in which he portrayed only the figure’s head (The girl with the pearl earring).
Vermeer most likely had a patron who bought most of the paintings he produced. In addition to his work as a painter, Vermeer twice served as dean of the painters’ guild and was also active as an art dealer and appraiser of paintings. In the end, despite the extra income from these activities, he could not manage to earn enough. When he died, he left his wife and eleven children with massive debts.