The Astronomer, Johannes Vermeer, 1668

Vermeer was a dutch painter only 36 of whose paintings have survived- this is probably a portrait of Leeuwenhoek, the first scientist working with microscopes – also Dutch. It was stolen by the Nazi’s during WWII, but returned to the Jewish Rothschild banking family after the war.

  1. This painting has been stolen and all pictures of it are disappearing – write a detailed description of the painting so that it can be identified if it is found,
  2. Sputnik was launched from the USSR (now Russia) in 1957, and the “space race” was on. Write everything you know about the exploration of space.
  3. The globe on the desk is a celestial globe of space as it was known in 1668. The portrait on the wall is of Moses who was “learned in the wisdom of Egypt.” The book is open to Chapter 3 of a 1621 book on astronomic geography. These are symbols of this astronomer’s profession. Imagine there is going to be a portrait of you that will include symbols of your life as it is now. What 4 items would you like included – describe each item and tell the story of what they symbolize.
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