Known to be the artist's own personal favorite of his works, this painting is enigmatically titled The Allegory of Painting, and it is a prime example of Vermeer's stylistic approach towards painting. The room is the main attraction, with dramatic lighting coming from a window on the left-hand side, allowing the viewer to begin with light and read over, from left to right, the images to follow (the painter of which is last). Props in the room such as chairs, tables, tapestries, books, cloths, a mask, and an overhanging chandelier create an interest in the viewer towards this mysterious setting. The tiles on the floor further act to bring us into the painting because of their stark three-dimensionality. The tiles represent textbook one-point linear perspective (which we learned about in the Renaissance).
The intriguing aspect of this painting is of course its elusive title. We see a woman posing in Greek literary attire for the portrait artist, whose back is turned to the viewer. We can see neither his face nor much of the painting he has begun. Also, where are the paints? The artist has no palate. Is he, then, really painting? What is actually going on? Taking a step back—which the perspective of this distant work is quite a few steps back—we cannot ignore the draping tapestry that covers almost a third of the painting. It has been pulled back, almost as if the audience were secretly peering into a private chamber from behind the curtain. Some hidden reality, some deeper truth is being shown here by the curtain being pulled back, and the riddle goes unanswered.