In his life-time Dou's work was more valued than that of any other Dutch artist including his master Rembrandt. What his contemporaries admired was the almost miraculous depiction of minute detail. Recently, this type of craftsmanship has become less appreciated, because it is believed to be 'mechanical', no more than the result of patience and labour. But imagination and interpretation are as much required by an artist when he paints with a single hair as when he wields a two-foot brush. Dou has thought especially carefully about light and how it strikes different surfaces. It is absorbed by the girl's frizzy hair like a cloud; it makes a sheen on the silks and velvets; it picks up the weave of the tapestry; it glows on the wood of the viola da gamba; it sparkles on the bird-cage; it almost swallows up the flowers on the window. It was no surprise that the most famous painter of light, Vermeer, was inspired by this painting. There is no obvious subject here, it is merely a depiction of everyday life. This means that the original viewer would have gazed at a familiar world and seen a familiar-looking girl gazing back. With no narrative to absorb her attention, the girl opens an ambiguous kind of dialogue with the viewer. We seem to have disturbed her playing. It has been suggested that the musical instruments here are symbolic of love: that the girl is inviting the viewer to strike up an amorous duet.