The most renowned work of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, The Art Of Panting is simultaneously visually awe-inspiring and an allegorical masterpiece. The piece is so stunning, in fact, that many an art lover travels to Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna just to view this image.
The image, depicting an artist hard at work painting a portrait of a woman, has significance beyond its pure aesthetic beauty. Upon closer observation, we notice that the woman is dressed as Clio, the muse of history. This leads us to believe that the other compositional elements, the map, tapestry, and chandelier, are there to convey Vermeer's belief in the meaningfulness of painting.
This work was created at a time where an artist was considered a craftsman, completing commissioned works, on the same level as a carpenter. By depicting an artist panting a woman dressed as Clio, holding a trumpet (symbolizing fame) and a thick volume (symbolizing history), Vermeer is putting the artist above mere craftsmen, and suggesting that the an artist is not just the recipient of the muse's voice, but her agent here on earth.
The Art Of Painting apparently had personal significance to Vermeer, as the work remained in his possession until his death in 1675. Despite his surviving family's bad financial situation, the piece was still not sold even after Vermeer passed away.