This is an updated version of a review I had written when Laura Snyder's Eye of the Beholder was released just over a year ago. This week the paperback edition was released, so I am sharing anew.
Eye of the Beholder is a fascinating read that delves into the technical aspects of the accomplishments of both Vermeer and van Leeuwenhoek.
By Josette Abruzzini on March 11, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Undeniably, van Leewenhoek and Vermeer made monumental contributions in each of their fields. That they were neighbors, and that they may have inspired each other as they led mankind towards new ways of seeing, is clearly presented in Laura J. Snyder's book about these seventeenth century Delftians. Almost four centuries after their birth, the significance of each of their contributions has been told in this beautifully written, widely researched and well-documented narrative, Eye of the Beholder.
To linger over a Vermeer is to feel like an intruder, sneaking a peek into a private moment as if you are in the room with the subject. The light through the window plays itself out in such a way that it feels real; yet you are entranced. Dr. Snyder brings us inside Vermeer's thinking as she leads us through the process of his painting. He uses technology to understand what his mind's eye sees, and then transforms his vision, his ideas, into incredible works of art.
Van Leeuwenhoek was a modest cloth merchant who honed his own magnifiers so as to better view his cloth. But a natural curiosity and a persistent nature led him to be the first human to witness the world of microbes. Through his letters, Ms. Snyder bids us into his world of animalcules.
Thanks to Ms. Snyder's craftily-written story, we can truly appreciate why both Vermeer and van Leeuwenhoek's gifts to civilization should be recorded on the same page. Whether your interest is art, science, or Holland's Golden Age, your perspective will be enriched by this book.