Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Or rather Delft exploded. Or more particularly, it was the Delft Arsenal. Or, to be exact, 66,138 pounds of gunpowder. And Carel Fabritius. That morning he was a thirty two year old painter obsessed with exploring illusionistic spatial effects.

A View of Delft, with a Musical Instrument Seller's Stall (1652) 155mm x 317mm

When you look at this painting (National Gallery room 25) time is stilled but space warps and ripples across the painting, the viola da gamba in the left foreground twists towards you ignoring the picture plane. The road swoops attempting to intrude on the viola's liberated geometry but fails to reach escape velocity, the vertical slatted thwarting it. The sly blue, in the slatted calm, snakes past the picture plane, the man oblivious.

This painting plays with space but it is not clear exactly how, or within what, it was made to be seen, certainly not flat as we see it now as an anamorphic distortion.