What is it about Vermeer?  His virtuosity as a technician is thrilling, of course — but how does he invest his photo-realistic visions with such warmth, such an impression of life?  The painting above revels in specificity, it enters the imagination as a place we've actually visited, but it's more than a record.  As usual, Vermeer plays with frames, spaces opening onto deeper spaces, drawing us in to the scene, and commenting ironically on the act of painting itself, putting frames around life.

The profound beauty of the most ordinary things, the great gift of “the ineluctable modality of the visible”, seem to have inspired him on an almost spiritual level, and the way he communicates this to us is both complex and totally obvious — some kind of mystery hiding in plain sight.

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