Leader of the Delft School of Dutch Baroque art and one of the most consistent Dutch Realist artists of the mid/late 17th-Century, Vermeer is primarily noted for his domestic interiors, lit by a window on the left, and typically containing a girl or young woman engaged in some relatively unimportant task: see for instance, Woman with a Pearl Necklace (1662-64, Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin). These pictures are characterized by yellow, blue and grey colour pigments , a cool light, a beautifully serene sense of balance, order and - above all - intimacy.
After the hiring of Johansson, other major casting decisions quickly followed, beginning with the addition of English actor Colin Firth as Vermeer.  Firth and Webber, both of a similar age and background, spent significant time discussing Vermeer's personality and lifestyle in the period leading up to the beginning of filming.  While researching the role, Firth realised that Vermeer was "incredibly elusive as an artist."  As a result, unlike Webber and Johansson, Firth chose to read the book to gain a better grasp of a man of whom little information existed on his private life.  Firth sought to "invent" the character and discover his motivations, and ultimately identified with the artist for having a private space in the midst of a bustling family. Firth also studied painting techniques and visited museums carrying Vermeer works.