The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer

Front Cover
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009 - Art - 36 pages
In this catalogue for the exhibition, Walter Liedtke, Curator of Paintings at the Metropolitan, drawing on the Museum's five Vermeers, scenes by other Dutch masters in the Museum's collection, including Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu, Nicolaes Maes, and Emanuel de Witte, and several works on paper, places the picture in the context of the artist's brief career and relates it to contemporary developments in Dutch art. In addition to an extended discussion of the painting's provenance, he provides a detailed study of the composition, the several revisions made during the course of execution, and the subtle relationships between light and shadow, color, contour, and shape. And he proposes a most intriguing argument for an erotic subtext, pointing out that, like maids and kitchen maids in earlier Netherlandish art, the figure in The Milkmaid was meant to attract the male viewer, to rouse in him temptation and restraint, desire and reservation, while the kitchen maid herself, endowed with traits typically reserved for higher-class women and surrounded by references to romance both literal and oblique, is presented as having amorous thoughts of her own.

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