Jan Vermeer Van Delft’s masterpiece The Milkmaid, painted between 1658 and 1661 is one of the finest works in the Rijksmuseum’s collection, drawing in crowds of dedicated visitors who marvel at this strikingly illusionistic depiction of a domestic servant. The magic of this figurative reproduction from life can be found in the ways that Vermeer has conjured various senses of weight, pressure, and force. Achieved to masterly effect, the artist has recreated the shifting dynamics of the rounded shoulders, the pursed lips, and the curve of the bread. A popular theme for artists during the Dutch Golden Age, The Milkmaid takes as its subject a kitchen maid, many of which were thought to have a reputation for love or romance, resulting in numerous suggestive canvases. Vermeer’s painting is a far more humanist reproduction of the individual, created at a time when the young artist was subsuming a variety of influences and styles. Influenced by a number of artists famous for their startling recreations of life, Vermeer’s painting is so illusionistic that to many the work resembles a photograph. The painterly craft is revealed when one notices the extraordinary skill in the composition, the interplay between light and shade, and the dignified rendering of the subject impossible to achieve through mere mechanical reproduction.
Surrounding the woman are a number of objects that elicit a tactile, experiential response to the scene. Beside her feet is a foot-warmer, and beside that a number of tiles just above floor-height with a variety of small designs on them. One of which is Cupid, the cherubic God of love. Vermeer certainly acknowledges the trajectory of paintings concerning domestic servants as sexually servile to their masters, yet allows the subject to consider her own place in the world. The Milkmaid is therefore not an object of the viewer’s gaze, she is self-possessing and achieves independence through her introspection.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
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