When we think of Vermeer's paintings, intimate images always come to mind that capture the Dutch Golden Age with great success; Many of his works seem to take place in the same room, an exceptional setting that served him equally well to represent his famous Milkmaid as well as the Geographer or the Woman with a pearl necklace. Be that as it may, the truth is that for anyone interested in the world of art, Vermeer is one of those artists who knew how to turn a simple theme into a great canvas.
Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675) was one of the most outstanding artists of the Dutch Baroque, in his production there have been a few dozen paintings, although it is well known that, in reality, the artist must have painted some more -unfortunately lost today- but always working under a previous commission which made his production quite reduced. Vermeer began making history paintings, but what he was really known for was his intimate canvases, although this time we are analyzing a completely different painting that does not seem to come from the baroque artist's brushes, a mythological painting.
The work we are analyzing here is en titled Diana and her companions and it is an oil on canvas just over a meter wide and ninety centimeters high; It is made in oil on canvas and dates from the mid-seventeenth century, specifically we would be talking about the year1656. Actually technically speaking, the work is not very successful since the artist has made some imperfections, this led to the canvas being attributed to Nicolaes Maes until the 19th century.
Vermeer based on Ovid's Metamorphoses to make the canvas that we are now analyzing. In it we see the goddess of hunting Diana for the Greeks or Artemis for the Romans, ready to take a bath accompanied by her nymphs after a long day of hunting. Diana was the prototype of her chastity so no man could see her naked, however, Actaeon, grandson of the king of Thebes, entered the grotto where Diana bathed and surprised her naked. As punishment the goddess turned him into a deer and he ended up devoured by his own deer
The artist, however, has focused on the theme of the bathroom, leaving punishment aside. The scene takes place at sunset, with light and shadow falling on women. In the foreground Diana appears dressed in yellow while one of her nymphs washes her feet.