This isn’t just a nice picture. It is primarily (and more interestingly) a picture of a nice person. It shows us how un-banal niceness really is, and how much we might need more of it in our lives.
The picture amounts to a visual essay on the constituents of niceness.
– She’s nice because the scale of her own niceness has never really occurred to her.
– She’s nice because she knows how to take her time and we know how much of life gets damaged by impatience.
– She’s nice because the care she exhibits with the lace will at other times be given to a friend.
– She’s nice because her ingrained straightforwardness can make her feel the strained artifice of life, rendering her at times awkward, and almost gawky in situations where less sensitive types might simply stride on.
– She’s nice because her mind is detailed and precise, its tenor suggested by the neatness, complexity and harmony of her bonnet, as though the painter had been kind enough to give us a map of her psyche.
– She’s nice because she’s always harboured doubts about her slightly broad-boned forearms.
We may buy her postcard and talk about how accomplished a painter was Caspar Netscher. But a deeper, less admissible desire may be stirring: the wish that we might meet and befriend someone a little bit like her, perhaps in one of the galleries.