Only 36 paintings are attributed to Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), who was relatively unknown outside the town of Delft, Holland until 200 years after his death at age 43. Vermeer is best known for his domestic interior scenes and portraits painted in two small rooms in his home with recurring furniture and decorations, his use of expensive pigments like lapis lazuli, and for his masterly use of lighting.
He was raised at Merchelen, the family home, an inn, and the site of his father's caffa production. His father, Reynier, kept the inn, dealt in art, and was a caffawercker (silkworker) exposing young Vermeer to the paintings he exhibited in the inn and fine satins that Vermeer would eventually paint. He married Catharina Bolnes and had 15 children, though four did not survive infancy. His short life, double terms as President of the Saint Luke's Guild (a trade association for painters), his large family, and his attention to precision with his painting are thought to explain his relatively small body of work.