The Geographer, 17th century artwork

The Geographer, 17th century artwork

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This image is part of the feature Nature's Paintbox

Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: The Geographer, 17th century artwork by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). This artwork was finished in 1669, and forms a pair with The Astronomer (V700/157), also by Vermeer. The original is in the Steadelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Germany. The two paintings depict the scientific revolution that was taking place in 17th-century Europe. In geography, increasingly accurate maps were being made. It is thought that van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) is the person used as the model for this painting. It shows a geographer holding a pair of dividers as he leans over a map. The terrestrial globe (upper centre) was made by Jodocus Hondius in 1600, and is a twin to the celestial globe in The Astronomer. At upper right, is part of a map of Europe. Vermeer's signature is on the cupboard, below the globe and to the right of the geographer's head.

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