THE GLASS OF WINE or A LADY DRINKING AND A GENTLEMAN
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)
Oil on canvas, 66.3 × 76.5 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gerrmany
Women drinking wine are an essential incarnation of vice in the work of Vermeer. The artist elegantly portrays the private lives of silent, timeless women in a movingly naturalistic way. He would dedicate seven of his thirty-five known works to the negative effects of wine. In this image, and the five others in this gallery, wine is clearly represented as an instrument of seduction (the seventh work, A Woman Asleep, shows the consequences of overindulgence).
The man hopes that the wine will act as an aphrodisiac, lifting the young woman's inhibitions and laying the groundwork for more intimate pleasures. The four-leafed clover on the window is the same as that featured in The Girl with the Wine Glass. The symbol, directly in the seated woman's eye line, is intended as a warning.
The plant symbolises Temperentia, or temperance – one of the cardinal virtues – and is accompanied by a set square, symbol of justice, and a bridle, symbolizing control of the passions. Many painters of the period portray women being seduced by men and wine.
MORE EXHIBITED VERMEER'S PAINTINGS ABOUT WINE AS AN ALLY TO SEDUCTION AND LOVE
Officer with a Laughning Girl
A Lady and Two Gentlemen
Girl Interrupted at her Music
The Music Lesson or A Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman
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