“May words be like pearls: rare and precious”
#PhilosophicalWednesday #12

“May words be like pearls: rare and precious”

In Jan Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance, a woman with a veiled head, in an elegant blue cape and a yellow dress, holds a slingbar in her hand, in front of her a table with strings of pearls and jewels resting on it.

The subject seems so evident and clear, very common in Vermeer’s contemporary genre painting: however, there are numerous clues that suggest a deeper meaning, one of them being the painting in the background portraying the Last Judgment.


Pesatrice di Perle, Jan Vermeer, 1664 – Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington


In the context of the materiality and transience of goods, pearls are an example of preciousness, the weight of which is linked to their value: we should therefore all behave like the woman protagonists, ready to give the right weight to the words we use.

As anticipated, even the Christ at the center of the Judgment is again comparable to the woman, in a more universal and profound conception, since in turn his role would be to weigh something.

The allegory represented invites us to live in the name of moderation, assigning fundamental importance to the evaluation of one’s actions, and therefore of one’s words.