Johannes Vermeer: The Art of Painting (1666)

(Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria)

Another allegory, this time from the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. The figure who is painting is probably Johannes Vermeer, the identity of the female figure is not known. As usual with an allegory there are several symbols present. The female figure represent the muse of history, clio. She is wearing a laurel wreath, holding a trumpet (depicting fame) and is carrying a book. Notice also the  double headed eagle on the golden chandelier. The double headed eagle is the symbol of the Habsburg dynasty, former rulers of Holland. this may represent the Catholic faith. the absence of candles in the chandelier might represent the suppression of the Catholic faith. The map in the background is that of the Netherlands, including modern-day Belgium. The map was made by Claes Jansz Visscher in 1636 and it shows the division between the Union of Utrecht to the north (The Netherlands or 'Republic of the Seven United Provinces', and the loyal provinces to the south (modern-day Belgium). This painting was made in 1666.