if you've seen it all, have you really seen it?

We are always rushing things - reports, deadlines, to-do lists. They’re met more with haste and urgency, than intention. The clock resets. We do it all over again.

Our relationship with art is no different from our relationship with the to-do list.

We scroll through our feeds full of aesthetic pictures with passive awareness, save it in an archive and move on. But did you really see that art for what it is? Is a beautiful photograph of the Mona Lisa as good as standing in front of it?

You’ve seen about 100 pictures today, but are you sure you haven’t missed anything?

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What do you see here? There's no rush, you have all the time in the world, spend a while on this painting. What do you observe?

Two women, yes. A blue tablecloth scrunched up on the far left of the scene. Was the quill pen in the seated woman's hand visible?

The tear shaped earring on her, the white ribbon tying her pearls together at the nape of her neck. There's writing on the top half of the paper, but the position in which she holds the pen does not suggest she has been writing. 

Were the reflection of windows in the glass visible? And the way the texture of the creases differ on the sleeves of the seated woman's arms, and the left arm of the standing woman's?


Let's de-construct the overall scene, then. What could be the relationship between the women here? Notice that, while the woman who stands has her right wrist discoloured, the woman who is seated has a uniformly pale wrist.

There's discolouration under the right wrist of the woman who stands, while the arm of the seated woman are uniformly pale. The bright yellow clothing v/s the muted colours of the plain clothing, hair in a headgear v/s hair pulled back in a bun. We could interpret that they don’t belong to the same social circle. 

And what does the positioning of the arms tell us? Even if we ignore the facial expressions, the hands foretell the expectations and anxieties that surround the arrival of a letter.



What else do you see? What else do we not see?

Mistress and Maid, 1667 - Johannes Vermeer

Mistress and Maid, 1667 - Johannes Vermeer