This is the view from my front door. Unfortunately you can't see the wind - there was a pile of snow on the inside of my door thanks to the wind. This is supposedly the first of two storms destined to hit Toronto before Christmas, with a second is forecast for Sunday. So it looks like I'll be celebrating my birthday indoors. Luckily for me I have food, and wine in the house so I don't have to go out in the storm. Plus I have the perfect excuse to stay inside, in front of the fire and read,Vermeers Hat, The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World by Timothy Brook. This book is a fascinating look at world trade via the paintings of Vermeer.
The first painting discussed is Vermeer's View of Delft, which I have in postcard form pinned to the wall behind my desk. Even as a postcard it is exquisite and I have discovered that this work stands out in his oeuvre as only one of two surviving paintings of outdoor scenes, and the only one where he attempted to paint a large space. Vermeer usually stayed indoors, whatever the weather, and painted carefully staged interiors with people.
Vermeer's paintings are windows that Brook looks through to explain what was going on in the world at this time. I have not only learnt how to look at the paintings more carefully but also how goods, like beaver pelts, tobacco, silver, spices and people moved through the world, from one corner to another in the seventeenth century. Many people talk about globalization as a modern development but this book proves it is much, much older.