detail of woman detail of table detail of frame

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St Praxedis Christ in the House of Martha and Mary Diana and Her Companions Procuress Woman Asleep Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window Little Street
Officer and Laughing Girl Milkmaid Glass of Wine Girl with Wineglass Girl Interrupted at Her Music View of Delft Music Lesson
Woman in Blue Woman Holding a Balance Young Woman with a Water Pitcher Woman with a Lute Woman with a Pearl Necklace A Lady Writing Girl with a Pearl Earring
Concert Girl with the Red Hat Art of Painting Mistress and Maid Portrait of Young Woman The Geographer The Astronomer
Lacemaker Guitar Player Love Letter Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid Allegory of Faith A Lady Standing at the Virginal Lady Seated at the Virginal

As the woman tautly holds the ribbons of her pearl necklace, she gazes into a mirror, another object imbued with complex moralizing associations; a mirror can symbolize pride, but also truth and self-knowledge. Vermeer provides no explicit commentary about how one should interpret the scene, one of the reasons this work is so endlessly intriguing. Nevertheless, the figure's dignified pose and the flow of light flooding the room do encourage a positive interpretation of the image. Indeed, through these means, as well as through the woman's serene expression, Vermeer infuses the painting with a sense of spiritual purity.

Excerpt taken from Vermeer: The Complete Works
by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr

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