The Glass of Wine
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cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

This Vermeer's acting like the last episode on a 17th century version of The Bachelor, and she might not be taking the rose.

Or, maybe she's going to say yes. That's what everyone really loves about this painting. Vermeer's set up one helluva story, and it could go either way. Firstly, the potential lovebirds are dressed to impress. That hat isn't something you just throw on to hang out with your bros, and the gold inlay all down her dress (fine, her "tabard" if you want to be all formal about it) is the Baroque equivalent of a plunging neckline.

Then there's the cittern on the chair, which shows he was plucking out a few tune-skis. Maybe laying it on heavy with "All of Me" or playing it cool with some "Just the Way You Are." The proposition may not be for anything more than a one night stand. She's nervous about something, though, since that's one thoughtful and thorough sip while he's looming over her like a damn creep. The only question is: Good nervous or bad nervous?

All signs point to bad nervous. Vermeer went artistic inception on us by including that painting within a painting that's got more of a brooding vibe than a 13-year old who's just bought their first album by The Cure. However, girlfriend's looking straight ahead through the open window to a beautiful day. It seems, then, that she's thinking about getting out of there.

However, you've got to keep in mind Vermeer's world. The Netherlands were a far sight more open than their fellow European neighbors to different lifestyles and points of view, but that only goes so far. Popular opinion in Vermeer's lifelong home of Delft held that there was no greater danger to a woman's virtue than sipping on gin 'n juice. A glass of wine was a one way ticket to whore island. If Romeo has anything to do with it, what with his trigger happy hand on that jug of wine, it's going to be a trip for two.

mhoutzager's picture


This painting could also have been called "getting her to loosen up".

Getting invited inside (with parental permission), making music, and drinking wine were all mandatory parts of making a move on a lady in 1660.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Wine Glass

The Wine Glass (also The Glass of Wine or Lady and Gentleman Drinking Wine, Dutch: Het glas wijn) is a 1660 painting by Johannes Vermeer now in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. It portrays a seated woman and a standing man drinking in an interior setting. The work contains the conventions of genre painting of the Delft School developed by Pieter de Hooch in the late 1650s. It contains figures situated in a brightly lit and spacious interior, while its architectural space is highly defined. The figures are set in the middle ground, rather than positioned in the foreground.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Wine Glass.