The procuress

This is Andrei Vázquez Latorre’s short comment on the picture The Procuress for the English for Specific Purposes subject. More information can be found in the main page of this blog about this picture.

The Procuress, by Vermeer.

"The Procuress", by Vermeer.

When I first saw this picture I loved it at first sight. There was a lot going onin the picture and the more I studied and read about it, the more I discovered about the magic and the marvellous technique of Vermeer’s in painting this picture.

It is not only how the characters are displayed over the canvas, but also the way he bothers in painting highly detailed objects and even attitudes. He skillfully puts himelf in the characters’ shoes and we undestand when he meant by their looks and their poses. Besides, there is a whole story within we get to imagine thanks to his mastery in paiting and describing moments.

The Procuress has been Vermeer’s first big hit and we already see how wonderful he was. In this picture he was almost saying, “look at how magnificent my abilites are going to be”. Thus, he has donated humanity a greatest picture.

Some fragments from other articles in the net:


“The richly satisfying nature of the relationship between the man and the woman on the right eventually begins to assert itself and draw us deep within it, on its own terms. One is struck by how miraculously uncontaminated it remains, either by its setting or by the dark figures who gather around it, and how much this counts in the way of value. Within the experience the couple share they seem invulnerable (and oblivious) to both the voyeuristic and the moralistic gaze. And the important thing is that the painting achieves uninhibited, intuitively convincing access to this experience.”

Edward A. Snow, A Study of Vermeer, 1979



This painting is the first known Vermeer.
A large format work 56.3 X 51.2″ (143 X 130 cm). The subject, the decor and the cultural climate are perfectly exemplary of the Caravaggio school, in the tradition of raconteurs of ribald stories, prodigal sons and cheaters. One can see a young woman, whose firm curves are being groped by the putative client under the attentive eye of the assistant procuress. It Is obvious that what could be and is very often vulgar when rendered by certain painters of the Caravaggio schoool, is transcended here.
All the emphasis is put on beauty, the quality of the admirable tapestry, the balustrade and the perfect contrast of the yellow with the work’s overall reddish-brown hue. A painting with promise. Vermeer had not yet been born.



Few of Vermeer’s paintings are as provocative as this fascinating scene of mercenary love, which, in its subject, as well as in its momentary gestures and expressions, seems to differ from his earlier biblical and mythological scenes. Here, behind a balustrade covered by a richly decorated rug, a procuress looks approvingly at a soldier, who offers a young woman a coin while fondling her breast. Holding a glass of wine in one hand, she willingly accepts his proposition with her other.

Excerpt taken from Vermeer: The Complete Works
by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr



Stylistic characteristics of both pictorial traditions—the Utrecht school and that of Rembrandt—are found in Vermeer’s early large-scale biblical and mythological paintings

, such as Diana and Her Companions (1655–56) and Christ in the House of Mary and Martha (c. 1655). The most striking assimilation of the two traditions is apparent in Vermeer’s The Procuress (1656). The subject of this scene of mercenary love is derived from a painting by the Utrecht-school artist Dirck van Baburen in the collection of Vermeer’s mother-in-law, while the deep reds and yellows and the strong chiaroscuro effects are reminiscent of Rembrandt’s style of painting. The dimly lit figure at the left of the composition is probably a self-portrait in which Vermeer assumes the guise of the Prodigal Son, a role that Rembrandt had also played in one of his own “merry company” scenes.


Andrei Vázquez Latorre.

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