Vermeer is renowned for his meticulous paintings of Dutch interiors, which reflect his fascination with optical effects and serenely balanced compositions. He produced few works – of which fewer than forty paintings survive – during his career in Delft. His early work reveals a knowledge of Italian art. He may have acquired this from his contact with Amsterdam and Utrecht painters, and also through his father’s art dealing business, which he inherited in 1652. Vermeer sold many of his own paintings to Pieter Claez van Ruijven, a wealthy Delft citizen, whose financial support was essential for the support of Vermeer’s large family.