VERMEER, Johannes
(b. 1632, Delft, d. 1675, Delft)

The Lacemaker (detail)

Oil on canvas transferred to panel
Musée du Louvre, Paris

This charming little work enables us to witness not only the intricate craft of lacemaking, but also the application of the young woman to her task. Vermeer again used the inverted Galilean telescope to project the act and divide the composition into two main parts. In the foreground, we see the sewing cushion and the different-coloured threads falling out from it. Owing to the use of the optical device already alluded to, we have red and white colouring effects that strike us as almost brutal. Then comes the lacemaker herself, receding toward the middle-ground, and set off against a unified light wall without any ornamentation. The composition is reduced to essentials, and the colour scheme depicting the young woman - the yellow of her jacket and the execution of the head and hair - remains subdued compared with the vivid accents of the foreground. Some "improvements", such as the curls of the girl's hair, are later additions.