The Art of Painting (The Artist's Studio) (1666/8)
It's only in recent times that Vermeer has been recognised as one of the greatest Dutch artists. His subject matter is usually a woman at home involved in reading, writing, playing a musical instrument or carrying out some domestic task. Not a great deal is known about his life and there are only about 35 paintings of which we can be sure that he was the painter.
"Vermeer's most remarkable trait is the quality of his light" - Theolphile Thore (French writer on art)
During his lifetime Rembrandt made around 70 self-portraits. This one he painted in 1665. By that time he had lost 3 of his sons in infancy, his wife Saskia had died in 1642 when she was just 30 years old, and he had been declared bankrupt in 1656.
The painting shows the Infanta Margarita, the daughter of the Spanish King and Queen, with her two maids of honour. A reflection of her parents is seen in the mirror behind her. On the right of the picture are two court dwarfs with a nun and a bodyguard standing behind them. At the left is Velazquez himself and a palace chamberlain is seen through the doorway at the back.