New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
This large canvas is probably Vermeer's earliest picture of everyday life, and dates from slightly before The Milkmaid. The differences in scale and technique between the two works reflect the young painter's program of reviewing alternative styles in the Netherlandish art world of the time. Here the warm palette, rich shadows, and frontal presentation of the figure, the table, and walls recall genre scenes of the mid-1650s by Nicolaes Maes.
Vermeer's subject is an overdressed maid, dozing and dreaming of love (the painting above her, with Cupid's leg, stands for "Love unmasked"). The recent presence of a male companion is suggested by the large glass (which has suffered wear) to the lower left, the bowl of fruit, the chair shoved aside, and the open door.
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