Diana and her Companions, 1653 - by Johannes Vermeer

In his Diana and her Companions, Vermeer's rendition of Diana is highly unusual for the time. The figure of Diana, the virgin goddess of hunting who personified chastity, can only be identified by the crescent moon she wears in her hair. She has neither bow and arrow nor dead game to signify her formidable ability as a huntress. He has presented both Diana and her entourage clothed rather than bathing in the nude, as they usually appear in paintings. She stands absorbed in meditative calm without a trace of her feared rash temper. Her pose, although reversed, is often traced to the Bathsheba at Her Bath by Rembrandt.

Diana was also goddess of the night, and this aspect of the legend is the one Vermeer portrayed. The figures are set into a dark landscape and illuminated by the moon. The only attribute of Diana in the painting is the crescent moon which she wears on her head. Diana, as goddess of the night, is also associated with death, and the type of grief evident in the painting comes closest to this meaning of the goddess.