Vermeer was baptized on October 31, 1632 in the Reformed Church (Nieuwe Kerk) and was raised a Protestant. His Christian name "Johannes" (or Joannis or Johannis) was favored over the prosaic "Jan" by Catholics and upper-class Protestants. Vermeer never used the name Jan even though a few 20th-century books use this name in their titles.
Nothing is known of Vermeer's childhood, but he must have served his apprenticeship beginning somewhere in the 1640s when he was still an adolescent.
Nothing is known about Vermeer's decision to become and artist. Likewise, we have no idea about what he thought about art. Not a single document links Vermeer with any other painter than Gerrit ter Borch, with whom he witnessed a legal act in Delft two days before Vermeer's marriage on April 20, 1653. It was once thought that Vermeer traveled to Italy like a number of Dutch painters who sought inspiration from the divine works of the Italian masters. However, it was discovered that it was not Vermeer, but his namesake Johannes van der Meer of Utrecht who was there in Italy in the early 1650s.
in www.essentialvermeer.com (adapted)