Most of Vermeer´s paintings that show women activities can be include in the criticism of addictions. With the demonstration of the mistaken behavior of the figures represented – following the funny way of the comedy- they tried to educate women to be virtuous, that is to say, so as what they thought and behaved agreed with the rules.
On the opposite case, the education through the “positive” model that presents the code of the official behavior on the base of an “exemplum virtutis” is limited in comparison.
The most famous of this group is “The Milkmaid” (top picture). This painting enjoyed very early of a special estimation, as the prize paid shows.
The serfdom is normally represented as laggard on the Holland pictures. On the other hand, we have some paintings as “A Maid piquing onions” (1646); the attributes of the onion (as aphrodisiac), and the chicken hanging (traditionally this is a sign of appetite) justify the lascivious interpretation of the painting. On the other hand, those sharpness don´t appear on Vermeer´s maid paintings. The action of pouring out the milk, which falls in wavy spouts in a mud bowl with two handles, is executed with gravity and attention (top picture).
The look of the maid concentrated on what she has to do, is a sign of humility. The soberness of the room is very good adapted to this easiness of life and the behavior of the maid. The wall is grey and yellowish in which we can distinguish nails, fissures, holes… was originally decorated or illustrated with a map.
Giving this example we can say that Vermeer used to portray his paintings with a lot of women. He portrays them in a very special way. These women are usually forefront and are described doing domestic chores, like for example, lace making, pouring milk, reading a letter… Those paintings, even if they look simple, they all have a second meaning and a special feeling in it. According to what I have just said, we can observe paintings like those ones: