Some Hidden Art: The Milkmaid – Simply Convivial

One of my little spots of beauty is particularly applicable here because it is hanging in my house after acknowledging my own taste and limits and also because it itself communicates Hidden Art.

I have always liked Vermeer’s painting The Milkmaid. I love how it portrays womanly, homey beauty. The milkmaid herself is pretty, but strong and not particularly thin. She’s attractive, but not preoccupied with herself. There’s the table, which is dressed with cloth and crockery but not “just so.” And there’s bread and milk, and she is preparing food. A peasant’s fare, but it’s being prepared with care and attention. I just love it.

But, a number of years ago, I heard a very artistic friend mention how she loves having original artwork (from local and small-scale artists) rather than prints of great works. She prefers seeing the great works also in their original in museums. So, for years I did not purchase a print of The Milkmaid for fear of being tacky and silly, because I lacked confidence in my own style.

Finally, though, I realized that I was not likely to ever see any great works in an art museum, and if I did I wouldn’t appreciate it like my friend would, and I didn’t have to let her taste and sensibilities dictate mine. So I asked for a print of The Milkmaid for my birthday, and Matt found one, framed it, and hung it. I consoled myself when I asked for it that I would just hang it in the laundry room, where I could be inspired by it but it wouldn’t offend someone who might have higher standards. However, the size Matt got was too large to fit where I’d been thinking I’d put it.

So now it hangs happily right in our kitchen area, a proud and bold placement for a demure and reserved woman. I see it all the time, everyday, and it grounds me. That is the sort of beauty I want, not only for my home but for myself. This, I want my sons to see, is the sort of beautiful woman worth admiring and staring at.

Bread and milk. Useful yet attractive crockery. To me, The Milkmaid epitomizes an earthy, grounded, substantial beauty.

Follow the Hidden Art Pinterest board or Ordo Amoris to see more women’s individual expressions of hidden art over the next couple months!

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  1. Your Vermeer print is beautiful and I’m thrilled to have discovered your blog :) I love the Bosch reflection :)

    1. Welcome, Vanessa! I didn’t notice the Bosch reflection in my photo until I posted it, but it does add a level of humor to it, there right under the bread. :)

  2. Lovely! If you’re “tacky and silly” then I am too, because I have several prints hanging up here (one is Constable’s “The Hay Wain” that I found at Goodwill!). :)

  3. Isn’t it crazy how when we were younger we were so easily tempted to give up our likes/dislikes to fit in. However, as we get older, we realize that Father loves us just as we are … therefore, we can be ourselves and rest assured that those that matter will love us as we are.

    Loved your post!

  4. I like those Dutch painters because they always seemed to capture the idea of hearth and home right down to the warm colors. One picture book I read to my boys always left me longing for that idea of home. It was Thy Friend, Obadiah.

  5. i’m so very glad for you that you hung it RIGHT THERE. :)
    that way you’ll be pleased with the sight WAY more often! ;)

    i love it too.
    please disregard friend’s comments. i’m sure she would recant in light of this post. ;)

    1. Oh, I know she didn’t mean at all to affect me that way. She was only effusing about her local art finds, and didn’t mean to be an arbiter of taste for others. :) It was all my own insecurity about my own taste, and I am happy every day that I got over it and hung what I like.

      1. i know how it is. :)
        i’m sure she didn’t mean it. but sometimes it’s easy for those voices to reverberate before they finally do die down.

        let this echo a few times instead… i love your taste!

  6. Oh Mystie, I love this story. Your Milkmaid print is doing exactly what it is meant to do–inspire, encourage, invigorate! If I were Vermeer, I would perhaps consider prints a miracle; more people to behold my work of art!

  7. As an artist, I hereby officially declare that you, Mystie, do not have bad taste. If you had asked for a Kinkaid this would be a very different discussion. =)

    Next time I see a local artist painting Baroque style domestic interior scenes I’ll let you know, but don’t hold your breathe! =)

  8. That painting makes me very happy because my grandma had a print on her wall throughout my childhood. It was of the painting before it had been cleaned, I think, and was very dark. When I saw the restored version I was quite surprised, having grown up with and loving the dirty one. :-) You were smart to know and be yourself and now you are blessed every day by having the milkmaid with you in your kitchen!

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