The Art of Painting has all the characteristics of Vermeer’s artistic genius, but, moreover, it stands apart from his other works. In this painting we see a seventeenth-century Dutch interior that is illuminated by diffused light and exquisitely painted details.
It is believed that this painting was really important to Vermeer, as it remained in his possession until his death. Even when the family was left in financial straits, it was not sold. After the death of the painter, his widow passed the ownership of the work to her mother, with this title work “a piece of painting by her late husband in which was depicted The Art of Painting“. This title presents an artist depicting a woman who is dressed as Cleo, the muse of history.
The painting shows us an everyday scene that takes place in a room filled with objetcs (a map, tapestry, and a chandelier). The artist is dressed in an elegant costume and is looking carefully to his model. In her head a crown of laurel can be seen, an object that represents honour, glory, and eternal life. In her hands she is holding a trumpet and a thick book, objects which represent fame and history.
Information taken from: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/verm_2.shtm