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The massive wooden window frame and the deep shadowed area of the carpet correspond rather closely to our idea of Vermeer's underpainting method.Neither of these two areas is defined according to the artist's habitual standard of finish.Other parts of the decorative patterns have been brought up with a medium-toned earth color, which compared to the darkest underpaint seems to be a medium-dark yellow ochre.The upper folds of the carpet which catch the incoming light have been depicted with light-toned paint, here with the addition of ochre and there with ultramarine.), which is the equivalent of today's term "underpainting," is a more or less monochrome version of the final painting which gives volume, suggests substance, substantiates the principal compositional elements and distributes darks and lights with a fair degree of accuracy.
Some of these terms, signaled by an icon of the Vermeer's monogram and signature, are also discussed as they relate to specifically Vermeer's art.
Dammar varnish does yellow and crack, as all varnishes do, but less so than others.
The addition of Dammar in a paint medium adds brilliance and luminosity to color.
The promotion of the fine arts over the decorative in European thought can largely be traced to the Renaissance, when Italian theorists such as Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) promoted artistic values, exemplified by the artists of the High Renaissance, that placed little value on the cost of materials or the amount of skilled work required to produce a work, but instead valued artistic imagination and the individual touch of the hand of a supremely gifted master such as Michelangelo (1475–1564), Raphael (1483–1520) or Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), reviving to some extent the approach of antiquity.
Most European art during prior to this period had been produced under a very different set of values, where both expensive materials and virtuoso displays in difficult techniques were highly valued.
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The darkest parts are all painted with the same semi-transparent dark gray pigment, most likely a mixture of raw umber and black.