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The Lacemaker,  1669-70,  24x21 cm
Paris, Louvre


In this miniature painting is a study of intense concentration on a task requiring great manual dexterity. The young woman holds the pins, bobbins, and fine thread in her fingers while making the tiny stitches that make up the lace. Vermeer has studied the craft of lacemaking carefully, for the technique and materials are accurately rendered.

Against the plain ocher background and the muted color scheme of the woman, the brilliant color of the thread stands out vividly. Against a dark blue cushion on an oriental rug, there are impressionistic whirlpools of red and white paint to represent the thread, with their downward flow continuing down and to the right with the fall of the rug. The foreground seems to be painted like an unfocused photograph: it is conjectured that Vermeer was influenced by the images seen with a Camera Obscura, an early form of camera.


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