One of my favorite artists - Pierre Auguste Renoir - reportedly believed The Lacemaker, painted between 1669-1670, was the most beautiful painting in the world! This is the smallest of Johannes Vermeer's paintings at just 24 cm x 21 cm. Yet her lovely yellow dress brightens the room in which she works. I love how she is carefully bent over her work but how that work is somehow hidden by objects in the foreground.
In another of Bob Raczka's books entitled The Vermeer Interviews: Conversations With Seven Works of Art, he deftly "interviews" the subjects of seven Vermeer paintings. With wit and insight, he coaxes answers from the subjects about Vermeer's style, their own roles in life, historical information from the time period, and additional details about the subjects of other paintings. Once again, I plan to share the photos and the book with students during the coming school year, helping them to choose a painting and construct interview questions to ask of its subject. Giving a voice to the subject's answers will require insightful research.