Inspiration and characteristics of The Girl with a Wine glass

It is a well known fact that Vermeer was not a particularly innovative artist and drew compositioal and thematic contents directly from his fellow painters. In particular, the painting which seems to have inspired The Girl with a WIne glass is Peter de Hoogh’s Woman Drinking with Soldiers (1658). De Hoogh was the first artist to set such a theme in a well-defined three-dimensional space illuminated by a bright coherent lighting system. In a certain sense, for the first time, De Hoogh had made the description of space as important as the figures themselves. Many critics assert that Vermeer went one step further and made space and light the true subjects of his canvases.

Another thing to point out is the presence of the theme of courtship in Vermeer’s paintings. A great many paintings of courtship refer to the difficulty of resisting the tempations of the flesh and the dangers of giving into passions, particularly under the influence of wine and tabacco. In the mid-17th century, artists created words with such content which undoubtedly influenced Vermeer. Wine, which had to be imparted, was far more costly than locally produced Dutch beer and was therefore a sign of social refinement. De Lairesse’s manore a ual for painters illustrates how the artist might indicate the social status of his sitter by the way in which they hold their glasses. The gesture of the girl holding the glass in The Girl with a Wine glass seems the most refined of all.

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