The Milkmaid Painting: Vermeer’s Mona Lisa at Rijksmuseum!

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Explore the simplicity of people’s lifestyle during the Golden Dutch Age through the Milkmaid painting in Rijksmuseum’s elegant galleries. 

It is a simple piece that holds deep significance, painted with the most brilliant artistic brushstrokes and a story to tell to all the Rijksmuseum visitors!

If you plan to explore this famous Vermeer painting at the Rijksmuseum, you must know its history, meaning, techniques, and more.

Read further to discover an in-depth analysis of the stunning piece of domesticity, and find cheap tickets to see this exhibit! 

About Vermeer: The Artist Who Painted the Milkmaid

The Milkmaid painting is a masterpiece by famous Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer, known worldwide for his attention to detail.

All the existing paintings of Vermeer cover tranquil and domestic themes, providing a peaceful experience to all viewers.

Johannes Vermeer was one of the greatest artists in the Golden Dutch Era.

He painted only around 30 artworks in his lifetime.

He took inspiration from many other 17th-century artists, and you can see a reflection of all the famous art techniques used in his work. 

From the start of his career, Vermeer used the famous Lapis Lazuli Ultramarine Blue color!

You will also see this mastery in his Milkmaid painting at the Rijksmuseum! 

The Milkmaid Painting: Description

The Milkmaid painting by Vermeer shows a simple scene of a woman standing in a kitchen.

She is a kitchen maid, pouring milk from a pitcher into a Dutch oven pot.

This painting is in a domestic setting, and the woman wears a striking blue apron over a simple bodice.

She has rolled up her sleeves to avoid dropping milk on her clothes and covered her head with a white cloth or scarf. 

A beautiful blue tablecloth covers the table in the Milkmaid painting, and on top are all types of bread in a basket.

A small Dutch footwarmer stands on the floor in the background on the right side of the painting.

The right side of the painting has a soft glow because of an open window on the left.

Vermeer uses this placement to his advantage, casting the left side in bright light.

You can also see two handwoven wicker baskets hanging from the wall on the left side of the painting. 

Vermeer uses a simple composition for the painting, but it captures the attention of all visitors! To learn the hidden techniques, read the article! 

Rijksmuseum Vermeer tickets to see the Milkmaid Painting

You need to have a Rijksmuseum ticket to see the Milkmaid painting.

The Rijksmuseum tickets are not available at the entrance of the museum and can only be bought online. 

The standard Rijksmuseum ticket with access to all permanent exhibitions, including Vermeer’s masterpieces, costs €24.

Children 18 years and under can visit the Vermeer exhibit for free!

We recommend a guided tour of the Rijksmuseum for art lovers for €45, as a professional guide will go with you, who can tell you so much more about the Milkmaid painting!

Please note: You must show ID proof to access the age-based discounts. 

Where and when can I see the Milkmaid Rijksmuseum Painting? 

The Milkmaid painting is permanently displayed in the Gallery of Honors, the most famous part of the Rijksmuseum.

You can access this Gallery and the other Museum galleries from 9 am to 5 pm on all days of the week.

Since the Rijksmuseum attracts over 2 million visitors every year, it is crowded daily.

Plan your visit from 9 am to 11 am or after 3.30 pm for a calming experience., especially on weekends.

The History of the Milkmaid Painting

Johannes Vermeer worked on painting the Milkmaid between 1657 and 1658.

He painted it during the Dutch Golden Age, and the Milkmaid painting is around 350 years old! 

Experts believe it is one of the last paintings of Vermeer’s formative years in which he copied techniques from other painters.

He tried to paint in a photographic-realism style inspired by artists like Frans van Mieris and Gabriel Metsu.

When Vermeer painted this piece, scenes of domestic life were a popular theme to paint on. 

The painting became a part of the permanent collection at Rijksmuseum after the Vermeer exhibit in 2023.

Symbolism and Theme of the Painting 

Symbolism and Theme of the Painting
Image: Rijksmuseum.nl

In the 17th century, Vermeer’s Milkmaid painting was considered to show domestic virtue, as it focuses on a maidservant doing a simple chore.

Experts believe that Vermeer wanted to pay respect to the hard work and care women put into these simple household chores.

The foot warmer in the distance shows the milkmaid’s complete focus on her job instead of relaxing in comfort. 

Her hard work is also shown in the rough condition of the walls and by the textured bread that will be used to make something new for the house, using milk. 

He also wanted to show the beauty of a simple life, which he accomplished in his Milkmaid painting.

In the 17th century, paintings of maids gained popularity, and they were shown with elements that indicated erotic symbols.

Vermeer’s virtuous Milkmaid painting went against this theme and chose to focus on the important work these women did daily.

It is a highly recommended piece to show the power of women! 

We recommend a guided tour of the Rijksmuseum to see Vermeer’s artwork since the professional guide will point out many more details about the Milkmaid painting! 

Vermeer’s Technique in the Milkmaid Painting

Rijksmuseum Vermeer tickets to see the Milkmaid Painting
Image: Rijksmuseum.nl

Vermeer uses immaculate techniques in his Milkmaid painting, which make it a timeless piece and its simple composition so attractive!

It is an oil painting that uses a simple color palette of yellows, whites, reds, charcoal black, and Lapis Lazuli blue, which stands out the most.

Vermeer used a simple underglaze of red paint for the milkmaid’s skin, an ochre color for the shadows, and a pink undertone for the highlights. 

The yellow shades used in this piece belong to the famous lead-tin yellow color, which is not available anymore. 

Vermeer uses the Impasto technique of applying paint thickly so the texture can be added to a piece using brushes and knives.

He also used a famous Pointillism painting technique.

This involved painting dots of all sizes close together or far away to create a textured effect. 

The use of these techniques is visible in Vermeer’s Milkmaid on the bread on the table. 

The famous Chiaroscuro technique appears in the painting, as Vermeer plays around with lights and shadows to give the painting a photographic look!

He pays excellent attention to detail in the painting, visible in his intricate brushstrokes on the folds of the maid’s clothes. 

A hidden detail most visitors don’t notice in the Milkmaid is the Delft-style blue and white tiles on the base of the wall near the warmer! 

To compare the techniques Vermeer used in his paintings, don’t forget to look at the other artworks by Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum! 

The Unique Composition of Vermeer’s Milkmaid Painting

The painting is structured in a way that a viewer’s eye goes to the milk pitcher as soon as they look at the piece!

Vermeer chose to have a low vantage point for his Milkmaid painting.

He uses two diagonal lines, one leading from the bread basket to the maid’s head.

The second diagonal line leads from the left edge to the table’s right leg.

These lines intersect at the maid’s right wrist, which is where the milk pitcher is!

The painting is minimal enough so viewers are not distracted by background details but focus on the woman. 

Fun Facts about the Vermeer Milkmaid Painting

Here are some exciting facts about the Milkmaid Vermeer painting at the Rijksmuseum!

  • The Milkmaid painting is nicknamed Vermeer’s Mona Lisa.

  • The Milkmaid painting measures around 45.5 x 41 centimeters. 

  • The woman shown in Vermeer’s painting is not only a milkmaid but also a kitchen maid. A milkmaid’s only job is to milk cows and take care of them, but she does more than that in the painting.

  • After some research, experts found that Vermeer painted over a huge map he had previously made on the background wall. He also painted over a clothes basket in the Milkmaid painting. 

You can discover more fun facts from our Top 10 Rijksmuseum facts article!

Tips to remember when seeing the Vermeer Exhibit!

Here are some helpful tips to ensure you have the best experience seeing Vermeer’s Milkmaid painting and other artworks at Rijksmuseum!

  • Explore the Gallery of Honors first, as it gets crowded later.

  • Wear comfortable shoes when exploring the Rijksmuseum so you can walk for long hours without taking breaks.

  • Every Rijksmuseum ticket covers all permanent exhibitions. Don’t forget to take advantage of this and explore all the rooms!

FAQs on Milkmaid Painting at Rijksmuseum 

1. What is the meaning of the Milkmaid painting?

2. What is the mood of the Milkmaid painting?

3. What is the box on the floor in Vermeer’s Milkmaid?

4. Is the Milkmaid a Baroque painting?

5. Where is the Milkmaid painting now?

6. Why did Johannes Vermeer create the Milkmaid painting?

7. What are the three paintings Vermeer is most famous for?

8. What is the Rijksmuseum ticket price to see the Milkmaid painting?

9. Where is the Milkmaid displayed in the Rijksmuseum?

10. Who is the painter of the Milkmaid Rijksmuseum artwork?

Featured Image: Rijksmuseum.nl

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