48 user 87 critic

Tim's Vermeer (2013)

2:05 | Trailer
Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.




Penn Jillette, Teller
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Jenison ... Self
Penn Jillette ... Self
Martin Mull ... Self
Philip Steadman Philip Steadman ... Self (as Prof. Philip Steadman)
David Hockney ... Self
Colin Blakemore Colin Blakemore ... Self
Leslie Jenison Leslie Jenison ... Self
Eric Armitage Eric Armitage ... Self
Daniëlle Lokin Daniëlle Lokin ... Self (as Daniélle Lokin)
Bob Groothuis Bob Groothuis ... Self
Ankie Bonnet Ankie Bonnet ... Self
Ruth Steadman Ruth Steadman ... Self
Mike Hayes Mike Hayes ... Self
Nicola Vigini Nicola Vigini ... Self
Graham Toms Graham Toms ... Self


Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Penn Jillette and Tim Jenison produced the movie themselves. See more »


Tim Jenison: There's also this modern idea that art and technology must never meet - you know, you go to school for technology or you go to school for art, but never for both... And in the Golden Age, they were one and the same person.
See more »


Referenced in Tim's View of Delft (unconfirmed) See more »


When I Paint My Masterpiece
Written and performed by Bob Dylan
See more »

User Reviews

A masterpiece
13 March 2014 | by christine-705-717153See all my reviews

I'm not blessed with a natural sense of curiosity, so the question of how Dutch Master, Johannes Vermeer, painted his extraordinary masterpieces has never kept me up at night. Tim's Vermeer made me realize I should be kept up at night by the mysteries of the past. I love this movie. I love that I paid close attention through it all. I love Tim Jenison's biting humor. I love the mystery surrounding his theory. I love that even back then, there were people doing things behind the scenes to make the ordinary extraordinary. And I love that we will never know if it's true.

Let me bring in my friend Heidi Sullivan to explain the meat and potatoes. Heidi and I made our yearly trek this year to the Hamptons together for the Hamptons Film Festival. She is an award-winning documentarian, and much, much, much smarter than I am. She also picks the movies we see because she is a deep-sea diver who spends time diving into things, while I am a water skier, flying over things on the surface level. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Anyway, in the interest of making sure you get the whole thing, I asked her to write the paragraph explaining Tim's theory on Vermeer's painting process. Here is it. After you read it, you will be glad I asked her. She is nothing if not articulate when it comes to complex issues. She went to Harvard. Just sayin'.

"Unlike those of his contemporaries, none of Vermeer's sketchbooks have ever been found, nor have X-rays of Vermeer paintings revealed any pencil marks underneath the paint, Intrigued by this fact, Jenison reasoned that Vermeer must have used a camera obscura, the 17th-century equivalent of a camera, to obtain his hyper-realist look (as the film points out, camera obscura literally means darkroom). To test out his theory, and limiting himself to objects and pigments that would have existed in Vermeer's day, Jenison positioned a mirror on a stick, placing the mirror at an angle to reflect the image to be painted onto his tablet. To match the color of the reflected image exactly, Jenison continually kept his eye on the edge of the mirror. Looking between the mirror and the reflected image he was painting, if the color he was using was too dark or too light, the edge of the mirror was visible to his eye. But once he mixed his colors to match exactly, the edge of the mirror seemed to disappear – his eye and the mirror functioning as a sort of photo-sensor. It was an incredibly painstaking paint-by-numbers process, but one that yielded uncanny results." Amazing right? But more amazing is Tim's exploration of this question. His journey to see if he could replicate is told with honesty, humor, and intelligence. Perhaps best of all, it approaches an extremely difficult topic with a sense of comic perspective. No one is curing cancer. He was responding to his own internal boredom with a project he admits he would have abandoned had not the cameras been rolling. There were 2,500 hours of film to edit. A feat in itself.

There is a moment on film that I couldn't leave behind. Tim's daughter spends her week home from college posing for the painting. She has to be perfectly still. A contraption is strapped to her head that makes it look like she has just broken her neck and is in traction. She has a Diet Coke on the table, and the moment when she reaches for it and takes a drink is priceless. Coke should use it in a commercial. And, Tim's comment that she couldn't wait to return to school was priceless.

I have to mention Penn Jillette, who was the 'Director' of this movie. But he really wasn't. He was the famous person whose backing allowed it to be made. Or so it seemed. I'm not a fan anyway, so having him associated with the film would have been a reason not to go, rather than a reason to pay attention.

I like stick-to-itiveness in a person. I do. I can't wait to see a Vermeer and at the Met the next time I am in New York City. I like to be smarter than I was a few hours ago. I like to know things. For those reasons alone, go see the Tim's Vermeer. Become smarter. Ask yourself if Vermeer could secretly have been a paint-by-numbers kind of guy, hiding it because he knew it was a form of cheating? If the answer is yes, what else is possible?

37 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 48 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





English | Dutch

Release Date:

17 January 2014 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Vermeer's Edge See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$49,777, 2 February 2014

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

High Delft Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed