Laughter is the Best Medicine

Johannes  Vermeer, “Officer and Laughing Girl”

– [Voiceover] In Mr. Frick’s day, Rembrandt was the most highly
regarded Dutch Old Master. In our time, he’s been
supplanted by Vermeer. In place of Rembrandt’s splendor
and unrestrained emotions, Vermeer offered images
of Puritanical order and quiet harmony. Each age has its own
aesthetic needs it seems. This small picture presents
the familiar components of a classic Vermeer. A man and a woman seen sharing
a pleasant moment alone in a comfortable interior
flooded with golden light and you can almost feel it, cool air. Whatever the nature of the
human exchange depicted here, it soon seems obvious that the real subject
of the picture is light. The intangible light shown bursting in through the open window, breaking out reflections
in the leaded panes, muffled through the curtains, caressing the soft plaster wall, lingering sporadically on
glowing fabrics, sparkling glass, or the soft expanse of the velour map which depicts Holland West at the top. But the light soon
recedes into dark corners and will soon accent the
young woman’s beguiling face, and soft kerchief differently. In this subtle fashion, Vermeer makes light a metaphor for time and reminds us ever so gently of its inevitable consequences. Fortunate are we to have
been permitted to eavesdrop on this golden moment.

One thought on “Johannes Vermeer, “Officer and Laughing Girl”

  1. The map is almost entirely of Holland, not only the corner. On this map, the North is at the right-hand side.

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