How did Vermeer do it? This question is apparently important to some people, including a Texas millionaire named Tim Jenison, the founder of NewTek. Jenison decided to prove that the 17th-century Dutch master must’ve had help from special lenses and mathematical devices to create his luminous canvases, so he sets out to replicate the hypothetical methods by which Vermeer might have turned the trick.
The word “trick” is key here, for Tim’s Vermeer is by magicians Penn and Teller (offscreen friends of Jenison). Teller directs, and Penn Jillette acts as producer and—of course—garrulous narrator.