Johannes Vermeer's the Milkmaid on Special Exhibition Research Proposal

Pages: 3 (1084 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

¶ … Johannes Vermeer's the Milkmaid on special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of the featured works of art currently being showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is that of Johannes Vermeer's the Milkmaid (1657-1658). Even a casual observer simply walking past the museum would know that this masterpiece could be found within the confines of the Met. This is one of the Dutch master's most famous works. The painting is on special loan from the Rijksmuseum to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's Dutch-commissioned voyage to New York. I naturally felt very excited and lucky to be able to attend the Met at this special time. The anticipation of seeing a great work also invariably impacts the reception of the work itself. I was prepared to see something life-altering as I strolled through the halls of the museum.

The nature of Vermeer's work is small and intimate. The work itself was smaller than some of the posters advertising the exhibition! After first being surprised by what I perceived as the humbleness of the subject and the smallness of the work in relation to the great fanfare about the loan, I began to gain a deeper appreciation for the Milkmaid. Compared with the posters, the actual work's coloring is strange and striking. A room, evidently a kitchen in a Dutch household, is bathed in a kind of eerie golden light that is both realistic, yet like nothing I have ever seen in art before, only in nature. The light from the outside, pouring through the panes of the glass is warm, golden, and illuminating.

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The woman at the center of the work is clearly from another time, a servant in a household where she might otherwise go overlooked. To my first glance, the milkmaid's face seemed as heavy and doughy as the breakfast rolls and loaf of bread on the table before her. However, the light gives her clothing and her face a golden, almost angelic glow that makes her seem profoundly significant. This shows how by making even an ordinary person the subject of art, that individual can be rendered into something beautiful. The artist elevates the ordinariness of daily life and forces the viewer to look at common things with new eyes.

Research Proposal on Johannes Vermeer's the Milkmaid on Special Exhibition Assignment

The realism of the painting is reinforced by the slightly askew positioning of the maid, standing by the window. She does not seem aware of the light or the artist. Her perspective is entirely focused on her task. This shuts the viewer out of her world, and allows the viewer to watch, rather than feel included, in the scene. The viewer is a kind of voyeur. The plaster of the household where the maid is preparing to serve breakfast is speckled with dirt in some places, and some baskets in the background are carelessly hung on hooks, once again underlining the realism of the piece. The work is quietly dynamic -- although the maid's actions are careful and deliberate, she is clearly in mid-pour. Her seriousness and her actions suggest she is serving a meal during the moment that has been captured upon the canvas. While the gold of her clothing is illuminated by the gold of the sun, her clothing and attire… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Johannes Vermeer's the Milkmaid on Special Exhibition."  Essaytown.com.  October 5, 2009.  Accessed January 16, 2021.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/johannes-vermeer-milkmaid-special-exhibition/11430.