Vermeer 2.0 / Philippe Charlier

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Look at these two paintings. It is the same individual, with his characteristic face, his inner coat (of Japanese inspiration), his thick hair stuck behind his ears. He sits, meanwhile, former astronomer becomes the geographer (he aged a little). It is always the same place, close to the window, the same table, covered by the same tapestry. The globe was lowered from the top of the cabinet. The same cabinet, in the same corner of the room. The books have moved, too (they have been read, or dusted). The chair was brought closer to the table. Always this need to put the left hand on the table, to gain stability. Holding. A scientific posture. It is no longer an alchemist who examines the mysteries of the world in a dark and antic atmosphere, without reliable or reproducible results: modern science is born, it illuminates the world, like that brilliant sooth that (en)lights this room of a bourgeois house of Delft.

Philippe Charlier, MD, PhD, LittD, is a forensic practitioner and anthropologist. He works on representations of the human bodies, and rituals related to diseases and death. He loves words, and more.

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  1. Claire C

    Strangely enought, the Astronomer was one of Hitler’s favorite paintings. It was stolen in 1941 by Goering and hidden in Austria during the war. Thanks to the monuments men who find the painting among others in 1945, we are still able to admire it.


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