The Procuress - Jan Vermeer

The Procuress

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the painting itself has a voyeuristic flavour the man has his hands on the womans breast challenging us to ask why. Does the woman have a close and loving relationship with this man? or is it a darker meaning that the woman is merely a procurer for sex and the man who is handling her breast is the buyer? Even to two men watching on are excluded from what is happening right in front of their eyes.
Given that many of Vermeer's paintings have a moral meaning to them I would suggest that the second option is the most likely one and Vermeer is saying look guard yourself against such things that money brings. For the woman is a person of some wealth she has a rich fabric covering her knees and a fine jug by her elbow. Perhaps Vermeer is saying that beauty though it can be paid for is always fleeting and the trappings of wealth are not always what they seem but more an imoral, in this case, earning.
Vermeer is starting to show some of his later talent for furnishings in this painting, the fabric is painted with painstaking detail and the jug positively shines out of the canvas. By contrast the men in the background are far more roughly painted than the two main figures. It can be seen though that Vermeer is still gaining mastery over teh human figure as the hands show in this portrait he is clumsy compared to the later portraits he was to produce.

this page © 2007 Rev Joy