Rothko first saw the original of The Art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer in the 1950s. He worked on the basis of a reproduction citing the blue dress and the window by which the young woman stands. He altered the style, context, and pose, and simply modernized the subject. Rothko's Mary holds her hand as though pregnant. The curtain, all the decorations, as well as the painter and his easel, vanish however. The space and the protagonist appear flat and abstracted.