Woman Holding a Balance Vermeer Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Johannes Vermeer's classic artistry is manifested throughout the artwork, Woman Holding a Balance.

The transitional artwork showcases a departure in Vermeer's work towards as darker sub content and style.

The painting was originally titled The Woman Weighting Gold, however has renamed as based on closer examination the painting is in fact a woman holding a balance as the title entails.

The array of symbolism within the artwork has been a critical debating point between art critics as the artwork transitions into a darker feel. The deeper colours throughout the painting suggest a gloomy spark behind the oil on canvas painting. The dark allure behind the piece holds a similar noir emotion to painter's Peter Paul Rubens work.

In the painting a young woman is depicted as she balances gold weights between her fingers. The woman holds an empty balance upon the table where a jewellery box is left open paired with pearls and gold spilling over. A blue tablecloth is placed on the side of the table spearing onto the window.

The table at which the woman stands seems to be a vanity in which the woman holds her luxuries items and tokens. While the artist continues his classic style using a mirror on the left side of the canvas, he covers a majority of the light source with an array of fabric darkening the room.

The altered essence of the painting in comparison to the artist's other work is the use of dark colours based off of the lack of light. The woman is believed to be based off of the artist's wife, Caterina Vermeer who is the classic muse of the artist. The woman gently stands in front of her desk analyzing the contents of the table as she picks up the balance and gently moves it in her hand.

The woman's head is slowly tilted to the side as she is seized in the moment looking at the balance. Her other hand gently gazes the top of the table as she remains engulfed within the weights.

The painting has been interpreted as a manifestation of divine truth, justice, and religion. Another interpretation held for the painting is that the woman is weighing unborn souls as she ponders difficult questions. The woman is dressed in a large yellow dress that covers her body and showcases her large pregnant stomach.

Based on her pregnancy it seems that the woman is in fact pondering the life of her children as she holds the balance. The woman wears a blue coat over with a white trim that covers her arts and chest. The woman's head is covered in a white cloth, a common characteristic of the artist's work as it showcased purity.

The background of the painting remains incredibly captivating as it holds a dark gloomy feel to it through the lack of light. The walls shift from the classic beige colour they usually are to a dark grey that swallows the room. An elaborate renaissance painting is portrayed on the wall above the woman, unknown if perhaps it is one of the artist's other works displayed within his home.

A black and gold frame covers the perimeter of the painting as it hangs against the wall adding to the room. The luxurious colours and dramatic architecture achieved through the lack of light resembles the Baroque style Vermeer often paid tribute to within his work.