Vermeer

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (1654-55)
Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland
160x142

This large, biblical, dark work seems like a different artist altogether from the later works of serene interiors, but the signature on Mary's stool is quite definitive. Perhaps the painting was commissioned.

The figures form a triangle, with Christ pointing to Mary, but looking at Martha. The background is merely sketched, strengthening the closeness of the group. Christ was invited home for a meal by Martha, and she is preparing the food while Mary is chatting with Christ and Martha is aggrieved; He tells her "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41). This is often interpreted as a justification of the contemplative life.