A story behind a Mirror

As I have mentioned in many other articles, one of the mist important elements that the spectator could see in The Music Lesson, is the mirror that is hung on the main wall of the central scene.

In this article what I am going to try to do is to explain the intention of Vermeer when he decided to include this element and which are the elements that this object reflects.

Let’s begin saying that one of the thing that we can see reflected in the mirror is a reflection of a corner of the table, but we can also see what appears to be the legs of the artist’s easel and behind that, maybe a leg of Vermeer’s stool.  However, and as some art specialists as Philip Steadman have established, there is another element in the top left hand corner of the painting: a small rectangle. But, what is this small rectangle of?

As Philip Steadman wondered that little rectangle could be a glimpse of the back wall:

Finally, and if we already know the position and size of everything in the room, we  could work out the angle of the mirror easily enough because we could see the corner of the table both in the room and in the reflection, and  then, we would know the exact length of the room(something which had never been worked out before). It turns out that the dimension corresponds nicely to an exact number of repeats of the tile pattern on the floor. It also allows for three equal-sized and equally-spaced windows, of which only two are generally visible in the paintings. Not only that but Philip Steadman is one of those analysts that looked at some of Vermeer’s paintings, and found that when he carried the angles of view in a number of the paintings back to meet the back wall, via the viewpoint of the picture, the size of the resulting rectangle on the back wall was the same, in each case, as that of the actual painting. This was for paintings that were of varying sizes, and whose viewpoint in the room was not the same in each case:


-Grand Illusions Article: The Mystery in the Mirror. Retrieved on 23 May from http://www.google.es/search?q=As+Philip+Steadman+wondered+that+little+rectangle+could+be+a+glimpse+of+the+back+wall&rls=com.microsoft:es:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GPEA_es