During the Dutch Golden Age, painting was not considered an art, but a trade, a way to make a living. Vermeer's financial difficulties are revealed by the guild's records, which establish that he could not initially pay the admission fee.
One of the town's richest citizens, Pieter van Ruijven, became his patron and bought many of his paintings. In Delft Vermeer had been a respected artist, but he was almost unknown outside his home town, and the fact that a local patron, van Ruijven, purchased much of his output reduced the possibility of his fame spreading.
Vermeer produced transparent colors by applying paint onto the canvas in loosely granular layers, a technique called pointillé.
According to the catalogue from the 1696 Dissius estate sale in Amsterdam describing twenty-one Vermeer paintings to be auctioned, one of the works was a 'portrait of Vermeer in a room with various accessories uncommonly beautifully painted by him.' Unfortunately, this 'uncommonly beautiful' self-portrait of Vermeer remains missing or has not survived. See Vermeer's Lost Self-Portrait
Vermeer at Artchive
Vermeer at WGA
Vermeer at Wikipedia
Vermeer at berger foundation
Vermeer at ABC gallery