“Officer and laughing girl,” Jan Vermeer – a description of the picture

“Officer and laughing girl,” Jan Vermeer – a description of the picture
“Officer and laughing girl,” Jan Vermeer - a description of the picture - 1

  • Posted by Jan Vermeer
  • Museum: Frick Collection
  • Year: 1657

Description of the picture :

The officer and laughing girl is Jan Vermeer. Oil on canvas. 504.8 x 460.4 cm

   Between 1655 and 1660, Jan Vermeer wrote several paintings on the theme “cavaliers, girls, wine”, including the famous “Officer and a laughing girl”, the second picture on this topic after “Svodnitsa”. This is understandable – Vermeer is young, full of life joys and creative powers.

   The canvas opens a simple room with two characters in front of the viewer. The interior of the room – carved chairs, a map on the wall, a lattice window – is repeated in various variations in several paintings by the artist. But in each his own mood, his own psychology of the plot.

   The main character of this canvas, of course, is a smiling girl with a glass in her hand. Her beautiful face is illuminated by a stream of light penetrating through a half-open window. I would like to note that in this work Vermeer proved to be a great master of the image of light and air. Feel the vibration of the air being felt like day warmth pouring around the room and gently enveloping a funny girl with rosy cheeks, as the light plays on the iridescent fabric of her dress.

   The face of the brave officer is practically invisible, only a slightly outlined profile. But this is also a colorful character – he has a black bandage, bright rich clothes, a broadband hat.

   Here the author used an interesting artistic technique called repussoir (from French – pushing, reflection), which, incidentally, was often used by the famous Italian Caravaggio. It is this method that Vermeer uses to represent the officer in the foreground. It seems that his figure dominates, the red color of his clothes and the dark hat contrast with the girl’s light and soft image. As a result, the background depth has been strengthened, the canvas in the future looks very spectacular, a look stops on it.

What the young officer and girl are talking about?

   Maybe it’s a fun conspiracy to meet between a warrior who returned from the next campaign and a girl selling love. Those who see in the image of the left hand of the beauty are an eloquent gesture, involving payment for certain services.

   Perhaps this is a light, non-binding conversation of a soldier with a cheerful beauty that has liked.

   Or maybe this is the mistress of the inn, and the man liked her so much that he takes time so as not to say goodbye to her longer. She is sympathetic to this, has fun in supporting the conversation, but expects him to pay for food and drink.

   On this occasion, many heated discussions were held among art historians and connoisseurs of Vermeer’s work. But, we can only guess, since the painter (knowingly or not) always leaves a whole field for guesses and thoughts about the history of the heroes of his stories.