detail of officer detail of woman detail of hands detail of map

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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

In this radiant painting a young woman gazes happily into the eyes of a red-cloaked soldier sitting across from her. Vermeer uses the sunlight falling on her to enliven her expression and to create shimmering specular highlights on the yellow strips of her sleeves and on the lion-head-finial chair.

Vermeer may have been inspired to paint this scene by Pieter de Hooch, who, in the mid-to-late 1650's, often depicted soldiers relaxing in a domestic setting. Vermeer, however, brought an added intensity to the figures' relationship by bringing them to the immediate foreground. He furthered this effect by exaggerating the differences in scale between the figures and by dressing the soldier in deep red, a color associated with passion and power.

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

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