Objects in Vermeer’s “The Procuress”

Out of the matter of characters, the objects displayed throughout the place in the picture are also painted with mastery. The sublime and most minute details have been painted with tender and care. Thus, the effect the viewer has at first sight is that of a wonderful piece.

To begin with, the very glass the whore holds betwen her fingers is a finest representation on a “römer” glass, meant for iddle hands, this is, it is wider than normal glasses so that the cup does not slip out of the fingers. Secondly, the glass the man in black holds is very typical in 17th century paintings, and its details have been kept with tender mastery. Even the spirits within the glasses seem to have a social meaning. Usually, brothel wine was corrupted or adulterated candy syrup. On the other hand, beer was also a popular drink. The jester -the man in black- is probably drinking beer, as it is no clear what the young whore is having -or offering to her suitor.

Thirdly, the viewer is given a sight of a cittern, which the jester is holding in his arms. The cittern is not an alien instrument to Vermeer’s time’s pictures, in fact, it is a very common musical instrument which even Vermeer used quite a few times. The cittern represents sexual desire, and so it has been depicted so many times in order to give more strengh to that idea of sex in many similar pictures.

Moreover, the viewer can find a big carpet that covers almost half the picture. This carpet represent a growing fashion in the 16th and 17th centuries of having those objects from Oriental lands that people used as ornamental tools. The carpet in the picture is drawn and painted with much care and has a magnificent look. The black coat from the jester covers part of the carpet to contrast its effect, for the carpet is very large and draws too much attention. The dark coat’s aim is to oppose the aesthetic and attractive strengh of the carpet and make the main attraction focus on the young couple. This coat has been added in a later stage of the painting.

Last but not least, the jug is presented also with a superb look. It is a fine piece of art in a lrger piece of art. The precision of the painting is astonishing and in no other Vermeer paiting could any find another object or piece of decoration as fine and detailed as the one presented in The Procuress.

Andrei Vzquez Latorre


· http://www.essentialvermeer.com/catalogue/procuress.html.

· http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404706599.html.