Johannes Vermeer, Woman with a Lute (ca. 1662-63). © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
No other 17th-century Dutch painter devoted as much attention to the rendering of cartographic works as Vermeer. In six of his paintings, an identifiable map adorns the walls of a domestic space. Vermeer followed the maps’ contents and proportions scrupulously, depicting them with such care that their geography and cartouches, even the compass roses, vessels, and sea creatures, are recognizable. Some lettering is legible, and in the case of Young Woman with a Lute, the blank lines following the periods in the maps’ surrounding texts match what we know from the few surviving copies of the Map of Europe.