active: 1654 - 1662 The Netherlands
Signatures on paintings are the only surviving documents of Jacobus Vrel's life. His seemingly naïve style and his pictures' rarity even have prompted speculation that he was an amateur. Scholars most often link Vrel's manner to Delft artists such as Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch, but elements in his street scenes may indicate connections to Haarlem, Friesland, Flanders, or the lower Rhineland. Scholars have attributed thirty-eight paintings depicting domestic interiors, courtyards, street scenes, and church interiors to Vrel. His only dated painting, from 1654, suggests that, rather than following, Vrel anticipated Delft artists' interest in domestic themes and light effects. Vrel rejected Dutch artists' traditional approach of describing surfaces in great detail. Instead, he created lofty spaces, often conveying an eerie feeling of emptiness. His interiors, with their curiously stunted furniture, frequently display a single woman, usually viewed from behind or in profile. His street scenes are unusual in their anonymity, showing unremarkable back streets and ordinary people. Vrel's painting technique--a straightforward manner without glazes or other refinements--complemented his unpretentious subjects.
Dutch, about 1654