May 18, 2008
The footwarmer was a little wooden box with a receiptable filled with hot coals which was used to keep warm woman’s foot in winter time. Footwarmers appear frequently in the work of Vermeer’s contemporaries, where they are always clearly identified and often in use, usually supporting a seated woman’s foot. However, in The Milkmaid, the footwarmer is not being used by the maid, but it is places aside in the painting. As mentioned before, this boxes were used to provide women with warm. Nevertheless, there was even a time when footwarmers were taken to be a mousetrap. We could also add that this little box had emblematic associations with a lover’s desire for constancy and caring, idea which is reinforced in the case of The Milkmaid by the cupid images on the tiles directly behind it.
We could say that in this painting there are two main objects, the milk pitcher and the footwarmer. They seem to involve and represent opposite things. For instance, the milk pitcher represents life itself and is open to the viewer’s huminizing impulses, whereas the footwarmer is unused and without a necessary place as it is placed in the floor and turned half aside. We could add that the pitcher exists at the heart of a domesticated human world, while the little wooden box rests just outside that world’s boundaries.
[ I can not manage to add an image of the footwarmer found in The Milkmaid, so please go to that page and observe the bottom part at the righ side of maid. ]
May 6, 2008
We have seen both in the film and in our book that the studio where Vermeer created all his paintings is one of the most important places.
It seems to be a kind of sanctuary for Vermeer, a sanctuary where he gets inspired and creates his wonderful pieces of work. After watching the film and reading the little passage in page 12, we get the idea that the studio is a room which at the same time is full but empty.
It is empty because there is no as much furniture as in the rest of the rooms in the house, and has almost no decoration at all. However, it is described as being full of little things, insignificant for somebody but the most important part for Vermeer himself. The table, for example, is full of Vermeer’s tools for painting.
There is no doubt that the studio is somekind of sanctuary both for Griet and Vermeer. It is described and shown as a place where they switch off from real world and specially from the house itself. It is a place where they find rest, peace, solitude, silence…. which is exactly what they need.
This is the way in which the studio is shown most of the time. Nevertheless, it is differently decorated depending on the painting.
Curiously, while I was looking for information I found a very interesting new about Vermeer’s real studio. It is a new published the 7th of January of 2005, and says that after 350 years, Vermeer’s studio is found by a Dutch in Delft garden.
Have a look at the real studio in the following page:
April 30, 2008
- What is Ekphrastic Poetry?
It is the conversation between two pieces of art. The writer interprets a work of visual art and then creates a narrative in verse from that represents his or her interpretation and reaction to that painting, photograph, sculpture or other artistic creation.
- How can we use this method?
Claire told us yesterday that we could use this writing method in order to create our essay on the corresponding painting we have. It is a kind of writing in which you write whatever comes to your mind in a moment and then without thinking on that just write another piece. She told us we could write for example about the yellow curtain in almost all paintings and the paragraph after it about the feeling of the woman.
As I understand Ekphrastic Poetry is a mixture of different pieces of writing all talking or describing the same painting. But how can someone make sense out of that?
April 24, 2008
The poem is taken from Marilyn’s ‘In Quiet Light’, which was published 8 years ago. This book is full of poems on the different Vermeer’s paintings, and this is the one on mine. It’s nice to have a look at them and see another different way of describing the works.
(As you already know, some of these poems are included in our book)
There is no flattery here: this thick-muscled,
broad-bottomed girl has milked cows at
dawn and carried sloshing pails
hung from a yoke on shoulders
broadened to the task. She kneaded
fat mounds of dough, sinking heavy fists deep
into voluptuous bread, innocent
and sensuous as a child in spring mud.
Evenings she mends and patches
the coarse wool of her bodice, smelling
her own sweat, sweet like grass and dung
in the barn or like warm milk
fresh from the udder.
Her world is grained and gritty, deep-
textured, rough-hewn, earth-toned, solid,
simple and crude. Reed and brass and clay,
wheat and flax and plaster turned to human use
have not come far from the loamy fields
where they were mined and gathered. The things
she handles are round and square, though-
fibered and strong, familiar as flesh to the touch.
The jug rests in her hand like a baby’s
bottom. She bends to her task like a mother
tending her child, hand and eye trained
to this work, heart left to its pondering.
How like tenderness, this look
of complete attention, how like a prayer
that blesses these loaves, this milk
(round like this belly, full like this breast),
given daily into her keeping, this handmaid
on whom the light falls,
haloed in white, hallowed by the gaze
that sees her thus, heavy, thick-lipped,
weathered and earthbound, blessed
and full of grace.
April 17, 2008
The novel Girl with the Pearl Earring was written by Tracy Chevalier in 1999. As she says, talking about the inspiration for this novel, the idea of writing such a story came easily:
“I was lying in bed one morning, worrying about what I was going to write next. (Writers are always worrying about that.) A poster of the Vermeer painting Girl With a Pearl Earring hung in my bedroom, as it had done since I was 19 and first discovered the painting. I lay there idly contemplating the girl’s face, and thought suddenly, “I wonder what Vermeer did to her to make her look like that. Now there’s a story worth writing.” Within three days I had the whole story worked out. It was effortless; I could see all the drama and conflict in the look on her face. Vermeer had done my work for me,” declared the author.
There is an interview in our books in which we can read very interesting things, such as how she conducted her research, why she chose Vermeer’s work to write about to which she confesses his work is beautiful and so mysterious. In her official web page, we can also read ” There is so much mystery in each painting, in the women he depicts, so many stories suggested but not told. I wanted to tell one of them.”
Have a look at the page!! You will find a little piece of writing about each painting that appears in the story. There so much to look at!!