Even though to the modern eye three or perhaps four women in Vermeer’s paintings seem to be pregnant, there is good reason to believe that this was not the case. According to Marieke de Winkel, Dutch costume expert, pregnancy “was not a common subject in art and there are very few depictions of maternity wear. Even in religious paintings such as the Visitation, where depictions of pregnant women is required, the bodies of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth were usually completely concealed by draperies” De Winkel further argues that “to my knowledge there are no examples of or pregnant women in Dutch portraiture, an interesting fact considering that many women were painted in their first year of marriage, a time when they could have been with child.” Pregnancy was most likely not seen as aesthetically attractive.
Furthermore, modern scholars generally believe that Vermeer systematically drew upon fellow genre painters of the time such as Gerrit Terborch, Frans van Mieris, Gerard Dou for both his compositions and themes. He did not substantially subvert or even significantly widen established iconographical boundaries but rather seemed completely absorbed in realizing their fullest expressive potential. In this light, it seems doubtful that Vermeer addressed such an unconventional theme such as that of a pregnant woman.