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The Lacemaker is one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings - and also his smallest (21 x 24cm).

For Renoir, it was the most beautiful painting in the world.

The painting is typical of Dutch Golden Age painting.

In the 17th century, the Dutch Republic was the richest country in Europe.

It attracted thousands of Protestants fleeing religious persecution in Europe and developed lucrative trade routes to the East.

The influx of money brought a flourish of artistic creativity, as patrons commissioned artworks and built great art collections.

But artists were fed up with painting traditional portraits.

They turned to representing landscapes and blissful domestic scenes.

In The Lacemaker, Vermeer channels this movement, celebrating the traditional values of application and serenity.

He also demonstrates an incredible mastery of colour.