Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Visiting Vermeer

(Above:Today, a wall full of reproductions of the known Vermeers in the world.)

At 4 this morning I was wide awake with the realization that if I did not go to the Met this very day to see Vermeer's "Milkmaid" then I would have totally missed the opportunity and would rue my bad planning. So I went.

The milkmaid wears a red skirt, a blue apron (note there is a new blue dye just discovered in a lab in Oregon), a yellow laced-up chemise with the sleeves pushed up, and a fetching white wimple.
Admiring her were a redhead in a quilted jacket; an academic older couple in matching tweeds; a Japanese man who had strayed from his group, wearing a Kelly green sweater; an older man with a corona of white hair and a perfectly creased blue suit; a Russian woman (I think) in a trench coat; a woman wearing an embroidered Indian jacket of the same ilk as that last seen on Hillary Clinton as she spoke to the troops in Afghanistan; a priest; a women in a bright red hoodie sweatshirt; a boy with droopy pants, a ski cap and a shockingly bright turquoise tee shirt; a portly woman in a Norwegian ski sweater and a man in a rugby shirt with pastel stripes.

Tomorrow and next year Vermeer’s milkmaid will still be wearing her red skirt, blue apron, yellow chemise and wimple, while all those who saw her today will have scattered across the city and changed their clothes.

Elsewhere in the exhibit I noted that in Vermeer’s “The Maid Asleep” the eponymous maid sits & dozes on a red leather chair with brass knobs. I recognized that chair and immediately the back of my thighs began to ache. Did my mother see this painting before acquiring her beloved red leather dining room chairs with brass knobs, the ones that are so uncomfortable and in which I, for one, would be very unlikely to fall asleep?

Given her fondness for Caucasian carpets (note the table covering) this does not seem unlikely. She admired the beautiful rug and the sleeping maid and made the leap to the (false) assumption that similar red-leather-brass-knobbed chairs would provide comfortable and elegant seating in her dining room.
Maybe you will characterize me as a whiner, complainer and griper (and all of these are occasionally true and I will try to expunge such behavior before our upcoming day of national mandatory gratitude) but I still assert that those chairs are just plain painful on the hamstrings, and my heart goes out to the Dutch maid.

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