Woman In Blue Reading A Woman Analysis

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Vermeer’s increased attention to line and size is similarly evident in Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. This painting depicts a young woman entranced by a letter, presumably from her lover. She wears a blue coat and stands beside a table. A chair is pulled out from the table; perhaps it is the woman’s seat. Behind her, a large map of the Netherlands hangs on the wall. Interestingly, the map is based on a known map and also appears in Vermeer’s painting, Officer and Laughing Girl. Despite the accurate depiction of the map, its size is adjusted to fit the composition. It is larger than the real map, as well as the depiction in Officer and Laughing Girl. This shows Vermeer’s interest in line and size as a means to depict his imagined scene, rather …show more content…
In the painting, a young woman dressed in Vermeer’s signature blue and yellow stands holding a balance above a table. Her eyes are transfixed on the balance, which itself is empty, though jewelry lays across the table. She is possibly pregnant, given the shape of her belly, though some suggest it is simply the style of her dress. Behind her is a painting of the last judgement. A window to the left of the woman illuminates the scene, first highlighting the woman’s hand, then the balance. The light continues up the woman’s left arm to the painting itself which has a gold trimmed frame. This use of light clearly connects the balance, the woman, and the painting. The woman and the balance alone are not enough for an allegorical interpretation, thus the painting on the back wall serves as theological context through which the viewer interprets the painting. If the woman is indeed pregnant, she may represent a “secularized image of the Virgin Mary” who acts as an intercessor before the Last Judgment. Furthermore, the pregnant woman may represent the “anticipation of Christ’s life, his sacrifice, and the eventual foundation of the Church”. The balance itself is clearer; it is not being used by the woman to weigh her jewelry, which would give the image a narrative, which Vermeer so often avoided. Instead, the image of the balance simply …show more content…
The painting features a young woman gazing at her reflection while putting on a pearl necklace. The woman, who stands in profile, wears a yellow ermine trimmed jacket. She is in front of a stark white wall with blue undertones. The use of complementary colors highlights the woman as the emphasis of the painting. In front of the woman is a table with a large blue cloth lying across it. Beside the table is a chair which serves as a barrier between the viewer and the woman. The line of the woman’s gaze connects the woman and the mirror, creating a sense of activity as the viewer glances between the woman and her mirror. In the Dutch seventeenth century painting tradition, both mirrors and pearl necklaces had numerous positive and negative interpretations. The serene mood of this painting suggests that these items should be interpreted positively, “evoking the ideals of a life lived with purity and truth”. Furthermore, the woman’s pose is reminiscent of an annunciation scene or a priest as he holds the Host during Eucharist. As a result, this painting uses subtle Catholic imagery and artistic convention to convey the ideals of a pure and holy life. However, x-radiographic images reveal that in earlier stages, this painting represented the negative interpretations of mirrors and pearls. On the chair in the bottom right corner of the painting,

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