In Officer and laughing girl we can see a courtship scene between a Dutch soldier and an affluent girl in the 17th Century. The setting is Vermeer’s favourite: a room with light coming in from the left. On the wall, we observe a map pointing to the west and not the north, as is common nowadays. This, together with other information on the map such as the inscription NOVA ET ACCVRATA TOTIVS HOLLANDIAE WESTFRISIAEQ (VE) TOPOGRAPHIA (New and accurate description of the full topography of Holland and West Friesland), places the scene during the Anglo-Dutch war for maritime routes.
Montoya captures the girl’s expression exactly, responding to the gentleman’s courtship with a smile that reveals how she is listening attentively, while being absorbed by the soldier’s words.