Today in Delft 340 years ago

Schwartz, G.
Gary Schwartz Art Historian (blog)
348, 30 September 2016

available online

Schwartz takes exception with Laura Snyder's ideas about Vermeer. At the end, he adds this about Leeuwenhoek:

The romanticization of the ties between Anthoni van Leeuwenhoek and Johannes Vermeer does injustice to the historical record in a further cruel way. The curator of an estate has permissible options that can benefit the heirs to a bankrupt estate. Van Leeuwenhoek did not employ them. Montias: "Van Leeuwenhoek does not seem to have been partial to vermeer's widow in his curatorship ..." He came up consistently for the rights of the creditors rather than Vermeer's widow Catharina Bolnes and her mother, Maria Thins. Montias holds him responsible for ''the allegation ... that Maria Thins and her daughter had conspired to conceal some of Catharina's assets,'' which would have landed them in jail had they not been able to prove it was a lie. In one action in which he was entirely free tot show sympathy fot the heirs, he behaved oppositely, by charging Maria Thins sixty guilders for his services as curator. Are we to believe that as she paid up she thought of Anthoni van Leeuwenhoek as a good friend and collaborator of her deceased son-in-law?

The 30th of September 1676 is indeed a day to remember. Not for proving that Anthoni van Leeuwenhoek was a partner of Johannes Vermeer in the reinvention of seeing, but for regretting that he added needlessly to the misery of Vermeer's heirs, besmirching their reputation and with it the artist's memory.