The book in the foreground, probably the Bible, sets the model's activity in the traditional context of morality infused with religion. The woman (who is not, as has been unfoundedly claimed, Vermeer's wife) is not wearing work clothes. The marvelously colored cushion on the left is a sewing cushion, used to store sewing materials. The concentration of the model and the play of colors against the light gray background make this one of Vermeer's masterpieces.


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