Artist: Jan Vermeer
Oil painting on canvas transferred onto panel; Size: 23.9x20.5cm; Louvre, Paris.
Painted some time around 1670, the picture represents a girl intent on her work with a lace-pillow. The theme should be seen, like the famous painting Milkmaid, as a celebration of female diligence and modesty: the literature of the period on marriage, for example, stressed that needlework and spinning were the activities best suited to a virtuous woman, drawing in part on the passage in Proverbs (31: 10-31) that describes the perfect woman. The subject was fairly common in the Dutch painting of the time, and was seen as an exemplum virlutis in contrast to the genre picture, certainly more popular, which, like comedy, preferred to pillory vice. This work too was executed with the aid of a camera obscura and using the technique of pointille, which made the outlines blurred thorough a deliberate imprecision of the focus. What is most striking in the painting is Vermeer's great freedom in the handling of color: note for example the detail, of great modernity, of the red and white threads that spill onto the table from the cushion.
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