To begin with, you cannot fully understand or experience a painting if you see a replication. One must view the painting in its original form because “… in the original [form] the silence and stillness permeate the actual material, the paint, in which one follows the traces of the painter’s immediate gestures.” (Berger 158) Moreover, your understanding of the image will vary slightly from the person next to you or even from myself, I cannot simply tell you the meaning of the painting but I can certainly guide you in how to understand and experience art. Every human being has their own way of seeing and your “… perception or appreciation of an image depends also upon [your] own way of seeing” (Berger 142), this is determined by several factors such as, past experiences, location, preconceived ideas of the artist or artwork, etc.
I also believe that one piece of art can speak thousands of words, “…images [have become] more precise and richer than literature” (Berger 143). When you view the image by Vermeer, take into consideration the time period and think about how people perceived one another in that time or how Vermeer viewed the lady he was painting. Furthermore, you must pay attention to the expressions on the woman’s face, this can tell you the emotions that were present in the room or what she might have been thinking. Feeling a connection between a piece of art and yourself can help enable you to understand what Vermeer was thinking or feeling when painting the image.