Artist: Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, Delft 1632–1675 Delft)
Date: ca. 1662
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 18 x 16 in. (45.7 x 40.6 cm)
Credit Line: Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889
Accession Number: 89.15.21
The essential subject of this serene picture is an ideal woman in an ideal home. Her head and elegant costume are covered by linen scarves, which with the silver-gilt basin and pitcher and the open window suggest ablutions at the beginning of the day. A string of pearls emerges from the jewelry box. Balanced shapes and colors (mainly the primaries) enhance the harmonious mood. Works by Vermeer were newly known and coveted by American collectors of the Gilded Age: this canvas was the first of thirteen to enter the United States between 1887 and 1919.