Painters muse dating

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Picture: The Art of Painting Date: 1665-67 Artist: Jan Vermeer (1632-75) Medium: Oil painting on canvas Genre: Dutch Realist genre painting Movement: 17th Century Dutch Painting Location: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Vermeer's finest works are his interiors with a single female subject.

They include: The Milkmaid (c.1658, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), Young Woman with a Water Jug/Pitcher (c.1662, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Woman Holding a Balance: aka The Goldweigher, (c.1662, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC), Woman with a Pearl Necklace (c.1662, Staatliche Museum, Berlin), Girl with a Red Hat (c.1666, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC and The Lacemaker (c.1669, Louvre, Paris).

Colour played an important part in all Vermeer's paintings, and he had a particular weakness for the cool blue hue of natural ultramarine, made from the mineral Lapis Lazuli.

This was (and still is) one of the world's most expensive colour pigments.

Adorning the gold chandelier is a double headed eagle, the official symbol of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, former rulers of Holland.

Thus experts believe that the chandelier represents Catholicism, while the lack of candles is a reference to its suppression by the dominant Protestant faith.

The largest example of Vermeer's style of Dutch Realism, it is believed to be a full-blown allegory - commenting on the art of painting and the artist's role in society - and maybe even a self-portrait of himself in action: hence the work's various titles.As a whole, the map serves as an illustration of how far a painter's fame could spread - from Antwerp to Amsterdam, through all the schools of Dutch Realist painting including Utrecht, Haarlem, Leiden, Dordrecht and Delft.The remainder of the studio's plush furnishings and fittings merely symbolize the material prosperity which is within the reach of talented painters.Looking beyond the parted curtain, there is a brightly lit studio in which a model is being painted by the artist who sits with his back to the viewer.The room is far more elegant than a regular artist's workshop, with a gold chandelier, fine furnishings, expensive marble floor tiles, and so on.

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True, it remains a typical illustration of his Dutch Baroque painting, but it hardly ranks as one of his masterpieces - a view supported by the fact that for many years it was thought to have been painted by Vermeer's Delft contemporary Pieter de Hooch (1629-84).

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