The Last Vermeer, is a series of Vermeer paintings which are famous for being masterpieces in their own right. The series was completed between the late fifteenth and the early seventeenth century and tells the story of how Vermeer spent his time between two projects.
After the death of his mother, Vermeer came into a large inheritance and devoted the majority of it to increasing his estate, mainly to commission new paintings for his museum. Unfortunately, he was plagued by poor health at this time and so often spent his time watching his daughter doodle in his sketch books, rather than concentrating on his paintings.
During this time, Vermeer also made friends with an architect who had worked with his own family and was now providing him with work. The architect was amazed by Vermeer's skill as an artist and so encouraged him to build a workshop. This was the beginning of what became Vermeer's Vermeer Arcole, which built on his love of art.
The stories vary on who actually designed this workshop. In the "Last Vermeer" movie, Roberta Lange and Andy Warhol claim the honour. However, in a more accurate telling, Vermeer never allowed his workshops to be designed, instead choosing them based on what he had observed in other artists' studios. This helped him to create and think about his ideas on his own, which he used in his studio.
According to Henri Vermeer, who attended the workshop that was built by Vermeer, the paintings in his studio were created "without me at the helm". It was Vermeer himself who was the architect of his own studio, and rather than design it, he simply copied the form of what he had seen, making it his own.
After finishing the workshop that he had built, Vermeer turned his attention to his second project, which was the Madonna with Child that he had started in 1605. This painting would also have been the work of Vermeer's house painter, who was painting for him, rather than for the public.
Although Vermeer's plans for his house painter, Johannes Rembrandt, had to be abandoned because of his terrible health at this time, it was still completed after about ten years of pain and hard work. It was also completed during the same period when Vermeer began to paint his first Madonna with Child, using the same methods. It is said that Vermeer spent a great deal of time in his studio, watching his girl draw, instead of working.
After the painting was finished, Vermeer fell ill with the plague and died shortly afterwards. He is buried in Sainte-Anne Cemetery in Rennes, in the same chapel where other famous artists have been buried. The Last Vermeer was made by Hollywood in 2020, but still, as with most movies about art, the story is a little vague.