Johannes Vermeer - Woman Holding a Balance 1665

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Johannes Vermeer - Woman Holding a Balance 1665

Woman Holding a Balance 1665
42x35cm oil/canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA
The image is only being used for informational and educational purposes

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From National Gallery of Art, Washington:
Woman Holding a Balance is a superb example of Johannes Vermeer’s exquisite sense of stability and rhythm. A woman dressed in a blue jacket with fur trim stands serenely at a table in a corner of a room. The scales in her right hand are at equilibrium, suggestive of her inner state of mind. A large painting of the Last Judgment, framed in black, hangs on the back wall of the room. A shimmering blue cloth, open boxes, two strands of pearls, and a gold chain lie on the sturdy table. Soft light comes in through the window and illuminates the scene. The woman is so pensive that the viewer almost hesitates to intrude on her quiet moment of contemplation.
The visual juxtaposition of the woman and the Last Judgment is reinforced by thematic parallels: to judge is to weigh. This scene has religious implications that seem related to Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s instructions, in his Spiritual Exercises, that the faithful, prior to meditating, first examine their conscience and weigh their sins as if facing Judgment Day. Only such introspection could lead to virtuous choices along the path of life. Woman Holding a Balance thus allegorically urges us to conduct our lives with temperance and moderation. The woman is poised between the earthly treasures of gold and pearls and a visual reminder of the eternal consequences of her actions.