Top 12 Amazing Paintings By Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) is considered to be one of the best Dutch painters of all time. He worked slowly and wasn’t a superstar during his lifetime, and struggled with debt at the end of his life.

Vermeer was a product of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in which the Netherlands became the biggest superpower in the world in terms of trade, military, science, and art. One historian even called it the “Dutch Miracle.”

He wasn’t the most prolific painter in history and not even among the famous Baroque artists of the time, but still left a legacy of amazing pieces of art. In this post, you’ll find our top 12 paintings by Johannes Vermeer.

1. Girl with a Pearl Earring

  • Date created: 1665
  • Location: Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands

Girl with a Pearl Earring is unquestionably Vermeer’s most famous painting. It depicts a European girl wearing an exotic dress and turban and she has a large pearl earring in her left ear, after which the painting has been named. It has dimensions of 44 x 39 centimeters (17.32 x 15.35 inches).

The painting, which is described as a “Tronie,” has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague since the early 20th century (1902) and has been voted the most beautiful painting in the Netherlands in 2006.

girl with pearl earring paintings by Johannes vermeer

2. The Art of Painting

  • Date created: 1666–1668
  • Location: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

The Art of Painting is also known as “The Allegory of Painting” and is considered another of Vermeer’s most famous paintings. It depicts an artist as he is painting a woman in a blue dress in his studio.

The painting has been signed to the right of the girl as “I [Oannes] Ver. Meer” and is one of Vermeer’s largest works with dimensions of 120 × 100 centimeters (47 × 39 inches). It hasn’t been dated though and it is currently owned by the Austrian Republic.

The art of painting

3. The Milkmaid

  • Date created: 1657–1658
  • Location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The Milkmaid is also referred to as “The Kitchen Maid” and depicts a young woman as she is doing domestic work, a popular theme of Vermeer in many of his works. In this case, the woman is pouring milk into an earthenware container on a table, hence the name of the painting.

The painting hasn’t been dated so the date it was created is an estimate. It’s a rather small painting with dimensions of 45.5 x 41 centimeters (​17.91 × ​16.14 inches). It’s one of the most famous pieces of art in the Rijksmuseum’s collection.

The Milkmaid

4. View of Delft

  • Date created: 1660–1661
  • Location: Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands

View of Delft depicts Johannes Vermeer’s hometown of Delft, a town in the southwest of The Netherlands in between the metropolitan areas of Rotterdam and The Hague. It’s one of only 3 paintings of his hometown he ever created and only 1 of 2 that survived.

Because it’s rather unique in Vermeer’s collection and painted in a time that cityscapes were uncommon, it’s one of his most popular paintings. It has dimensions of 96.5 × 115.7 centimeters (38.0 × 45.6 inches) and has been in the possession of the Mauritshuis since 1822.

View of Delft

5. Woman with a Water Jug

  • Date created: 1660–1662
  • Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States

Woman With a Water Jug is also known as “Young Woman with a Water Pitcher” and is another Vermeer painting depicting a domestic scene. This painting is famous because it’s the first of his paintings that was brought to the United States.

The woman in the painting is holding a water jug in her left hand and is wearing a dark blue dress. A map is decorating the wall behind her. The painting has dimensions of 45.7 × 40.6 centimeters (18.0 × 16.0 inches).

woman with a water jug

6. The Astronomer

  • Date created: 1668
  • Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

The Astronomer is a painting depicting a man studying a celestial globe. This painting is believed to be closely related to his later work called “The Geographer,” a very similar painting believed to depict the same man.

The man in question is assumed to be Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a famous scientist in the Dutch Golden Age referred to as “The Father of Microbiology.” The painting has dimensions of 51 × 45 centimeters (20 × 18 inches) and has been in the collection of the Louvre since 1983.

The Astronomer

7. The Lacemaker

  • Date created: 1669–1670
  • Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

The Lacemaker depicts a young woman as she is holding up a pair of bobbins in her left hand and carefully places a pin in the pillow to make lace. The woman is seated against a blank wall as well, which means Vermeer wanted to avoid any attention on anything else.

The painting has dimensions of 24.5 × 21 centimeters (9.6 × 8.3 inches) which makes it the smallest painting in Vermeer’s entire collection. It is currently on display at the Louvre in Paris.

The Lacemaker

8. The Concert

  • Date created: 1664
  • Location: Unkown

The Concert is a painting that is believed to have been painted halfway through the 1660s and depicts a man and two women playing music. It was only documented for the first time in 1780.

The painting has dimensions of 72.5 × 64.7 centimeters (28.5 × 25.5 inches) and was on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston until 1990. It was stolen that year and up until now, it hasn’t been retrieved.

Experts value the painting at USD 250 million which makes it the most valuable stolen object in the world. If it hadn’t been stolen, it would have been the 14th most valuable painting in a museum today.

The concert famous vermeer painting

9. The Allegory of Faith

  • Date created: 1670-1672
  • Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, United States

The Allegory of Faith can be described as a similar painting as the “Art of Painting,” in which the painter portrays an allegory of the main topic. In this painting, the woman is sitting in front of a large painting of Christ’s crucifixion.

The painting has the dimension of 114.3 × 88.9 centimeters (45.0 × 35.0 inches), making it one of his larger works. It also differs from his usual style and theme, even though the woman is depicted in a domestic setting.

The Allegory of faith

10. Woman Holding a Balance

  • Date created: 1662–1663
  • Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., United States

Woman Holding a Balance was originally called “Woman Weighing Gold” until it was discovered that the balance the woman is holding was empty. Therefore, it was originally renamed “Woman Testing a Balance.”

It’s one of the most fascinating paintings by Johannes Vermeer because the main theme of the work isn’t exactly clear. The woman appears to be pregnant, she holds an empty balance, and the wall behind her is decorated with a painting of the Last Judgement depicting Christ with raised, outstretched hands.

The painting has dimensions of 42.5 × 38 centimeters (16.7 × 15 inches) and has been described as a work meant to serve as a meditative aid to lead a thoughtful and balanced life.

Woman holding a balance

11. Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

  • Date created: 1655
  • Location: Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary is one of the earliest paintings created by Johannes Vermeer and is the largest in his oeuvre as well. It has dimensions of 160 × 142 centimeters (63 × 56 inches) which is significantly larger than any painting he produced after it.

It’s also the only painting that depicts an overtly religious story, namely a story from the Gospel of St Luke in which Christ visits the house of Mary’s sister Martha. Regardless of this notion, he did integrate multiple religious symbols in his work and his Allegory of Faith is also predominantly religious.

It’s on display at the Scottish National Gallery and has been since 1926, only a couple of decades following the discovery of the signature of the artist in the early 20th century.

Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Johannes Vermeer / Wiki Commons

12. The Little Street

  • Date created: 1657-1658
  • Dimensions: 54.3 × 44 centimeters (21.4 × 17 inches)

The Little Street is the other one of the two surviving paintings by Vermeer that depict a scene in his hometown of Delft. We can see a couple of ordinary houses in a small street and background filled with a sky and clouds.

The exact location of this painting was the subject of extensive debate for multiple decades. The mystery was finally solved when a tax register from 1667 provided the definitive answer with the location being determined an obscure street in the eastern part of the city.

The house on the righthand side was owned by the artist’s aunt and the little gate was referred to as the “Penspoort,” a reference to the tripe you could buy there. The artist’s mother and sister also lived in this street, another reason why he chose to depict this location.

The Little Street by Johannes Vermeer
The Little Street by Vermeer / Wiki Commons