Military and Laughing Girl, Vermeer

Military and Laughing Girl, Vermeer
Military and Laughing Girl, Vermeer

In the Dutch Golden Age a good number of pictorial works were carried out that stand out for the mastery of their compositions and the chromatic-light harmony, many were the important painters at this time, but if we must highlight so only one of them, our eyes turn to one of the figures that has raised the most unknowns, and still raises today, art specialists, Johannes Vermeer.


The figure of this unique artist born in the city of Delft in 1632 and died in the same place for only forty-three years has posed a great challenge for art historians who are in charge of studying his production since that neither the data about his biography, nor about his work are clear or conclusive. We know little about his training, in the middle of the century -specifically in the year 1653- he appears for the first time registered in the painters' guild of Saint Luke of the city of Delft as a full-fledged teacher. However, to reach this position it was necessary to go through an extensive apprenticeship in a workshop. Some authors speak of the possibility that Vermeer was trained in the workshop of artists such as Leonaert Bramer, Gerard ter Borch or Carel Fabritius, however, none of these hypotheses has been ascertained; what does seem certain is the influence that the painter Pieter de Hooch had on Vermeer, whether it was due to the fact that he belonged to hisworkshop or simply because he was a great painter whom the young artist admired.

In the work that we analyze here we find some of those characteristics in which the influence of Hooch can be appreciated. The work is a small vertical format canvas en titled Military and laughing girl or The military and the smiling girl; it seems that the work was done in oil on canvas around the year 1658 and is currently part of the Frick collection in New York in the USA.

Actually, the theme is not too new, there are many works that deal with the courtship of young women by gallant gentlemen who offer her a glass of wine. On the other hand, we must point out how the woman is the main axis around which most of the artist's surviving works revolve, likewise we also recognize the room in which he develops the action, it is the same room in which other works by the artist take place and in which we find natural lighting coming from the large window that opens onto the outside. The position of the gentleman - with his back to the viewer - does not allow us to appreciate his face, however with this posture he recreates a larger space and marks the depth of the canvas.

Finally, highlight the large map of the United Provinces that hangs on the wall above the characters, it refers to the Anglo-Dutch war for control of the commercial sea routes.

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