(…) Vermeer’s colours are purer and stranger than those of his rivals; he uses his own poetic palette of sensually cool tones that create a deeper, more enigmatic mood. For the distinction of Vermeer is not just technical or optical. That’s why a secret camera seems such a poor explanation for his art. His paintings have an extra dimension of soul. Far from observing the visible world more acutely than his contemporaries, he looks beyond it more insightfully than they do. Time and again, comparing his paintings with similar scenes by other Dutch artists in this majestic display, it is the greater sympathy and imagination of his art that leaps out. Other artists can show women playing lutes, their faces fixed on sheet music. Only Vermeer can show us the inner life of his lutenist as she looks poignantly into the silver light from the window, thinking of a world beyond, waiting for news from a lover perhaps. On the wall above her hangs a meticulously painted map, showing ships on the North sea and Atlantic. Is her lover or husband off trading in Asia, or London, or Muscovy? All she can do is wait, and play sad music.