Johannes Vermeer Paints Portrait of a Young Woman

In the 1696 sale catalogue of paintings owned by Jacob Dissius, the son-in-law of Vermeer's patron Pieter van Ruijven, "a tronie in antique dress, uncommonly artful" is listed as number 38 and is followed by 39.

Another ditto [tronie by] Vermeer," and "4-0. A pendant of the same". Almost any costume with a bolt of material thrown aver the shoulder could explain the reference to a figure as in "antique" dress, which meant merely outdated, not necessarily classical. The entire costume in the present painting from the Wrightsman collection or in Girl with a Red Hat, and the headgear in Girl with a Pearl Earring (upper right) in the Mauritshuis, would have been termed antique by Dutch critics and cataloguers of the seventeenth century, quite as the costumes in Diana and Her Companions could have been so described.

A curious, enigmatic portrait. It is hard to believe that this is a Vermeer. At first glance, it seems distasteful. The young girl is not pretty. But, one is all the more mesmerized the more one looks at it, the more one studies the extraordinarily wide-spaced eyes, the too thin lips and the compensating richness of the blue and white clothing. The Young Girl With Turban provokes an immediate esthetic and sensual feeling of belonging.