Johannes Vermeer Paints Officer and Laughing Girl

Because the costume of the girl (upper right) and the painting techniques resemble those of the Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, this painting is generally dated about 1658, shortly after the other.

The differences in mood between these works are substantial: whereas the Girl Reading a Letter is quiet and restrained, this work is exuberant and stresses momentary action. The shift of emphasis may be due to Vermeer's close contact with Pieter de Hooch. De Hooch, during the mid -1650s, painted a number of interior genre scenes of soldiers and women at tables (middle right). In some of these, he also tended to situate the soldier so that the viewer peered over his shoulder; this viewpoint gave an informal appearance to the scene.

One of Vermeer's most glowing paintings is the Officer and Laughing Girl. The light that floods the corner of the room where the couple sits is given a particular intensity by the silhouetted figure of the soldier. His black hat and red jacket form a striking contrast to the light background and yellow-green tablecloth. The girl, who leans forward slightly in her chair and smiles at the soldier, is vividly portrayed in a yellow and black jacket.