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Brief: Final weekend for Vembrandt, Rembrandt & Hals @ Frick Museum

Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and Fabritius' The Goldfinch star appearance that has drawn record attendance for the Frick Museum is coming to an end this Sunday.

Promotional board with image of Girl with a Pearl Earring by Dutch artist Vermeer
Frick Museum, photo by E. Chan

This writer however would like to direct your attention to another work which is part of the Frick's permanent collection and this Vermeer's "Mistress & Maid."

In Mistress and Maid the two figures of the women vertically fill the canvas. The table cloth covering a table in the lower left of the canvas and the letter box which rests atop the table add a horizontal element. Both the aforementioned horizontal and vertical dimensions in the positive space of the canvas predominate, the dark brown background acts to outline the form of the figures and to focus in on what the two women are doing.

The gold-yellow of the Mistress attire casts a brightness on her figure within the dark brown background drawing a viewer's focus in on her. The maid in her pale ecru brown attire is in marked contrast to the mistress' bright clothing another signal as to the respective social status of the two women.

Rippled folds of the table cloth and of both women's attire add a texture element. The mistress' left hand to her chin with the left thumb pointed at her left ear with the pearl earring act as points of emphasis to a viewer's eye. With the focus of many of the work's elements are about the mistress, it is however the letter in the right hand that acts as the unknowable subtext for the scene.

Two women of different social and financial station are conversing. A viewer can see the maid entire fire, her mouth is slightly open and she is the one who appears to be assertively speaking as to the contents of the letter. Meanwhile the mistress is a more passive role, she is listening to what the maid has to say and weigh the import of those words.

In addition to this writer's quick analysis you can see Mistress and Maid in greater detail at the following link: .

However, to quote a recent interview of the CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Digital technology doesn't replace the primal experience of physically standing in front of a work of art."

That is why you should run to catch the "Vermeer, Rembrandt & Hals" exhibition this weekend. Sunday marks the end of the American leg of this exhibition of 15 works on loan from the Mauritshuis in the Hague.

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