_Girl with the Red Hat_ is one of Johannes Vermeer’s smallest works, and it is painted on panel rather than on his customary canvas. The girl has turned in her chair and interacts with the viewer through her direct gaze. _Girl with the Red Hat_ is portrayed with unusual spontaneity and informality. The artist’s exquisite use of color is this painting’s most striking characteristic, for both its compositional and its psychological effects. Vermeer concentrated the two major colors in two distinct areas: a vibrant red for the hat and a sumptuous blue for the robe. He then used the intensity of the white cravat to unify the whole.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Vermeer also was an art dealer in Delft. There is no documentation of his artistic training or apprenticeship, but in 1653 he became a master in the Saint Luke’s Guild in Delft; he would serve as head of that guild four times in the 1660s and 1670s. Although he was well regarded in his lifetime, he was heavily in debt when he died in 1675. Only in the late 19th century did Vermeer achieve widespread fame for his intimate genre scenes and quiet cityscapes.


  • Title: Girl with the Red Hat
  • Creator: Johannes Vermeer
  • Date Created: c. 1666/1667
  • Physical Dimensions: painted surface: 22.8 x 18 cm (9 x 7 1/16 in.) support: 23.2 x 18.1 cm (9 1/8 x 7 1/8 in.) framed: 40.3 x 35.6 x 4.4 cm (15 7/8 x 14 x 1 3/4 in.)
  • Provenance: Possibly Pieter Claesz van Ruijven [1624-1674], Delft; possibly by inheritance to his wife, Maria de Knuijt [d. 1681]; possibly by inheritance to her daughter, Magdalena van Ruijven [1655-1682], Delft;[1] possibly by inheritance to her husband, Jacob Abrahamsz. Dissius [1653-1695], Delft; (sale, Amsterdam, 16 May 1696, probably no. 39 or 40).[2] Lafontaine collection, Paris; (his sale, Hôtel de Bouillon, Paris, 10-12 December 1822 [postponed from 27-29 November], no. 28). Baron Louis Marie Baptiste Atthalin [1784-1856], Colmar; by inheritance to his nephew and adopted son, Louis Marie Félix Laurent-Atthalin [1818-1893], Colmar and Paris; by inheritance to his son, Baron Gaston Marie Laurent-Atthelin [1848-1912], Paris and Château des Moussets, Limay, Seine-et-Oise; by inheritance to his wife, Baroness Marguerite Chaperon Laurent-Atthalin [1854-1931], Paris;[3] (M. Knoedler & Co., New York and London); sold November 1925 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 30 March 1932 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA. [1] Perhaps the _Girl with the Red Hat_ was one of the _tronien_ listed in the April 1683 inventory of possessions accruing to Jacob Dissius after the death of his wife, Magdalena van Ruijven, on 16 June 1682. See John Michael Montias, _Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History_, Princeton, 1989: 359, doc. 417. [2] John Michael Montias, _Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History_, Princeton, 1989: 363-364, doc. 439. Item no. 38 in the sale is described as "a tronie in antique dress, uncommonly artful"; item no. 39 as "Another ditto Vermeer"; and item no. 40 as "A pendant of the same." [3] Bernard Roulier, the Baroness’ great-grandson, related the family’s history of their ownership of the painting in a letter of 6 October 1983 to J. Carter Brown (copy in NGA curatorial files). Roulier suggests that Baron L.M.B. Atthalin might have purchased the painting at the 1822 sale, while his mother related to mutual friends of hers and J. Carter Brown that the baron bought the painting after seeing it in a shop window (letter, 28 June 1977, Brown to Mme Denise Kagan Moyseur, copy in NGA curatorial files).
  • Medium: oil on panel

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