Tim’s Vermeer

Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) is most known today because of the 2003 film Girl with a pearl earring. So here comes a documentary that focuses on the beauty and peculiarity of his masterpieces. Tim’s Vermeer is produced by magicians Penn & Teller, with Penn Jillette narrating and Teller in the director’s chair. We meet Tim Jenison inventor and founder of NewTek, a hardware and software company. Jenison has a theory about Vermeer’s painting techniques. It is a fact that no preparatory sketches or notes has ever been known to exist from the great master. The paintings have been x-rayed and there are no traces of lines drawn up or layers of paint. They seem to have been painted as they are seen now. In the film we see paintings so perfect they actually look like photographs. One theory has been that Vermeer used optical devices like camera obscura or camera lucida, and mirrors to reproduce what was in front of him. And Jenison has decided to prove it by trying to reproduce a Vermeer painting with those techniques. But first he meets american comedian and painter Martin Mull, mathematician Philip Steadman and British painter and Vermeer theorist David Hockney who all confirm he is going in the right direction. This project took five-year of Jenisons life. The painting he chose is The music lesson. In a studio he builds a full-scale replica of the room exactly as it is seen in the painting. And Jenison spends months sitting at a table trying to reproduce every minute details. The story of Tim Jenison’s obsession becomes a film about the beauty of Vermeer’s paintings, no matter what techniques may have been.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Tim’s Vermeer


Directed by: 
Narrated by Penn Jillette
80 min.
Rated Parental Guidance



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