Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing

Laura J. Snyder. Norton, $27.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-393-07746-9
Snyder (The Philosophical Breakfast Club) transports readers to the small Dutch city of Delft during the height of the scientific revolution to examine the lives of artists Johannes Vermeer and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the changing notions of “seeing” in both art and science in 17th-century Europe. Though Snyder makes a convincing case that optics and natural philosophy changed the way people saw, why she chose to focus on Vermeer and Leeuwenhoek is less clear. Their narratives are given historical context, which sometimes relies on speculation. But many of the historical facts included are irrelevant to understanding the topic at hand. For example, Snyder gives descriptions of a single receipt from Leeuwenhoek’s fabric store, and the details of Vermeer’s marriage certificate. Numerous tangents about their contemporaries in the fields of optics and painting serve to illuminate the environment in which these men worked, but often seem to paint these other artists and scientists more vividly than Vermeer and Leeuwenhoek. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/05/2015
Release date: 03/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 576 pages - 978-1-78497-023-9
Open Ebook - 480 pages - 978-0-393-24652-0
Compact Disc - 1 pages - 978-1-62231-656-4
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-393-35288-7
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