By Ingalis A.G. (ed.)
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Extra resources for Amateur telescope making
Surely he would have used one if it had been available! It was time for the natural philosopher to put aside Aristotle’s texts and see for himself (or, sometimes, herself), often by means of the new optical instruments. Accordingly, in this period, tiny insects were peered at through microscopes, distant planets were examined through telescopes, and human bodies were cut open in civic anatomical theaters to discover what lay inside. A new idea of what it meant to see emerged: one that allowed that there was more to nature than meets the naked eye, and that lenses, and other optical instruments, could help us see a part of nature that was otherwise hidden.
It is not known why Reynier chose this last name, though since the word vermeer in Dutch means “to increase,” it was perhaps wishful thinking about his own fortune that suggested the name. More prosaically, Vermeer is a contraction of Van der Meer (from the lake), and was a common surname. One of Reynier’s brothers had already adopted this surname around 1624. It is not surprising that Reynier Vermeer would embark on the two careers—art dealing and inn keeping—at once. These often went together.
When he later leased an inn on the north side of the Voldersgracht (thus embarking on a third career as an innkeeper), Reynier named it De Vliegende Vos (The Flying Fox). Most likely he named the inn after himself, and not—as some have claimed—the other way around, since he was already using “Vos” before he leased the inn. Indeed, Reynier Vos was a common combination of names. ” Perhaps to distinguish himself from all the other Reynier Voses, Johannes’s father had settled on the name “Vermeer” by 1640.