An Introduction to Vermeer’s The Lacemaker

The Lacemaker , the painting I chose in order to do my presentation as well as to write the tale, is a painting by the famous Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). It was completed between 1669–1670. Nowadays, we can find it in the Louvre Museum, Paris. The work shows a young woman dressed in a yellow shawl bent in concentration as she sews the threads of a dress. At 24.5 cm x 21 cm (9.6 in x 8.3 in), the work is the smallest of Vermeer’s paintings,but in many ways one of his most abstract and unusual.

Regarding technical description, the support is a slightly open, plain-weave canvas. The thin, gray-brown ground contains chalk, lead-white, and umber. The red; pink and light blue areas were painted wet-in-wet. Brushmarks impart texture to the background paint, and impasto touches are found on the highlights. X-radiograph shows a pentimento: the knee was lower so that a triangle of wall was visible under the tabletop. The blue in the tablecloth is discolored. The flattened tacking edges along the left and right sides have been retouched. At the same time, it’s important to mention that things such as tools and threads were painted accurately adding all details.

Concerning the activity that the painting represents, it’s easy to assume that the girl it’s working on lacemaking. This was one of the greatest extravagances in the history of clothing. True lace was not made until the late 15th and early 16th century. In Vermeer’s painting, we can clearly see that the girl is making bobbin lace, which is one kind of lace.

Finally, we realized that unlike other artists, Johannes Vermeer used to sign all his paintings in different ways. The most common are the ones which appear in A Lady Standing at the Virginal,The Girl with a Pearl Earring, Woman with a Pearl Necklace, The Glass of Wine, The Girl with a Glass of Wine and so on. On the contrary, the less common ones appear in The Procuress, The Art of Painting, The Astronomer and Diana and her Companions. So, as you can see the signature of this painting is clearly among the most common ones.