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Masterpieces | Louvre Museum | Paris

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An unusual painting in Vermeer’s oeuvre: a few houses and a couple of people in a quiet street. Vermeer gave the scene a palpable sense of tension and balance. The old walls, worn bricks and white plaster are almost tangible. What part of Delft this shows is no longer known. Johannes Vermeer, 1658.

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The Concert, about 1665, Johannes Vermeer, Dutch, 1632-1675, Oil on canvas, 72.5 x 64.7 cm

Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675). Woman with a Lute, ca. 1662–63. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900 (25.110.24) | In this work of the early 1660s, a young woman in an ermine-trimmed jacket plays a lute and looks intently out the window. The viola da gamba on the floor and songbooks on the table suggest that she may be waiting for a male visitor.

Het melkmeisje, Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1660

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Lady in Blue by Vermeer, on her way back from Japan to the Netherlands. Now on show in the Rijksmuseum.

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A Maid Asleep

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, about 1665. Maurithuis, The Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague, The Netherlands

This picture is probably the earliest in which the Delft painter treats his favorite theme of a young woman, occasionally with a male companion, in a domestic interior. An overdressed maid has dozed off after entertaining a visitor (two glasses, a pitcher, and a jug may be seen in the jumbled still life). The painting above her depicts Cupid unmasked, an oblique explanation of her dreamy smile. Radiographs show that Vermeer originally painted a man in the background and a dog to the lower…