Johannes Vermeer Paints Diana and Her Companions

In this evocative mythological painting, Diana sits with her companions near the edge of a dark and impenetrable forest.

As evening falls she gazes unseeingly into the distance while one of her companions kneels before her, attending to her feet. The quiet and somber mood is unusual for depictions of this fleet-footed goddess, who, when not shown hunting with bow and arrow is often bathing with her nymphs splashing water upon Actaeon to transform him into a deer, or confronting the pregnant Callisto.

The composition was first outlined with dark brown brushwork, some of which is visible as pentimenti in the skirt and foot of the woman washing Diana's foot. All the shadows were first blocked in with a dark paint that is especially evident in the flesh tones of Diana and her seated companions. Smalt is present in all the pale flesh tones, mixtures containing white, and the foliage. Vermeer used the handle of the brush to scratch hairs on the dog's ear.
The paint surface is abraded. vertical lines of paint loss are evident to the left of center. Weave emphasis and squashed cupping has resulted from the lining process.