Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl
After working at the Frick for about twenty-five years, it’s still difficult to choose my favorite work of art, but I’m drawn to Vermeer’s Officer and Laughing Girl.
The girl’s smile is so open and natural. She looks relaxed and like she’s truly enjoying herself. The beautiful light bathing her face seems to come not only from the open window on the left—it appears to radiate out from within her. Her smile even makes me feel better when I’m having a down moment.
The image of a couple enjoying themselves resonates with me for another reason. My parents’ first date took place at The Frick Collection. It was a set-up, a blind date, that occurred around 1956–57—almost exactly three hundred years after Vermeer created his painting. I like to think of my parents strolling through the galleries and stopping to look at the painting. Although they definitely don’t resemble the figures in the work, the girl’s open smile makes me think of my mom, and I think of my parents enjoying themselves on their first meeting, which led to a second date. And so on.
Staff Favorites is a series of personal reflections by Frick staff members about works of art in the permanent collection. In January 2021, the Frick—in association with DelMonico Books/D.A.P. New York—published a collection of texts in a similar vein by prominent artists, writers, and other cultural figures, each sharing how a work of art at the museum has moved or inspired them. Titled The Sleeve Should Be Illegal & Other Reflections on Art at the Frick, the anthology is made possible by The Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation.