Johannes Vermeer Paints The Girl with a Wineglass

The woman's openly expressive face is somewhat atypical for Vermeer who tends to convey his sitters' hidden emotions through their discreet gestures and nature of their activity.

One early Vermeer expert has suspected that her staring eyes and awkward smile was the result of overpainting. In any case, rather than exchanging glances with her suitor, Vermeer's girl turns towards the viewer, separating herself from him. Arthur Wheelock has pointed out that the woman's smiling is a knowing one, indicating not only that she is aware of the situation, but also that she is in control. Thus, it is he rather than she that is being seduced. This scenario, where the male fawns over a beautiful woman with ruby lips and ivory skin dressed in fine satins only to be betrayed or rejected, is one that was fashionable among 17th-century poets, who based their ideas of unrequited love on the sonnets of Petrarch.

The figure in the background of this simple and ordered interior rests his head on his hand in a melancholy attitude, while in the foreground a young woman takes a wine glass which an elegantly dressed man hands to her. The young woman's smile and the man's attitude indicate that we are witnessing a scene of seduction, and that the girl is largely accepting her admirer's advances. The woman's gesture of looking out to the spectator in order to involve us in her world, indicates that it is the two men rather than she who are seduced and unable to resist her tempting presence. In the window that hangs on the left, creating a beautiful range of colors and shapes, we see an allegorical figure of a woman holding a bridle. Emblem books of the period allow us to identify to control one's desires and passions.