Jan Vermeer's art of painting
The art of painting was painted in 1665, right in the middle of the baroque era. The baroque's painters sought life and found a world in movement- aristocrats were portrayed on horses holding a levade with their forelegs tucked in -depicted drama and exaggerated motion. In terms of content, the art of painting does not belong to baroque style. The girl is standing still, there is not wind blowing into the room and only the hands of the painter seem to be in motion.
Everything seems perfectly arranged to create an adequate setting. It is not pretentious, it's like a snapshot of a moment in time. if the painter would stand up, he would be significantly bigger than the girl, too big. It's a proportion mistake due the use of a camera obscura, a gadget that projects an image and its surroundings on a screen(real novelty then). It's a very useful device but the objects closer to it look larger than the rest. Vermeer made this painting as a sample of his work, seeing himself always in the embarrassing position of sending possible clients to see his work down to the baker(who had one of Vermeer's paintings) .
The young woman is posing as classical muse. The Greeks and roman considered painting as a craft rather than an art so there wasn't the muse of painting. The subject is history muse, Clio, evidenced by her wearing a laurel wreath, holding a trumpet(depicting fame), possibly carrying a book by Thucydides(as she should be represented according to the iconographic book of the time)
the map in the background has a rip that divide the Netherlands in two, the dutch republic of the north and the Habsburg controlled flemish south. Maps had practical as decorative uses in at the time.
This painting looks realistic though there are some missing details the left leg of the easel,the space were the girl stands is nonexistent if we take in consideration the table,wall and tiles on the floor. There are so many details to discover in this painting and every time I look at it, I find a new one that puzzles me. The symbolism of every item, position or character is so fascinating.