Vermeer's painting belongs to a genre of domestic scenes prevalent in mid 17th-century Holland in which the mores of contemporary life, particularly those pertaining to love and courtship, were
depicted and commented upon. Many of these themes focus on the foibles of male/female relationships and man's inability to restrain his sexual appetite even though the narrative of Vermeer's
paintings are so subtly contrived as to pose serious questions of interpretation.
In The Girl with the Wine Glass the picture in the background is a portrait of a gentleman with a dignified demeanor. The relationship of this painting to the scene taking place before it is not immediately apparent, and perhaps the painting has no symbolic relevance. Vermeer, however, may have intended to contrast the dignity of the portrait with the activity of the figures. The coat of arms prominently displayed in the window reinforces this assumption. The young suitor, draped in an elegant cape, carefully accompanies the woman's hand which delicately holds the tip of a half-full wineglass.
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