Dammar varnish does yellow and crack, as all varnishes do, but less so than others.The addition of Dammar in a paint medium adds brilliance and luminosity to color.Dead-coloring was so important in the painting process that it was mandatory in early days of Flemish painting.In 1546, one of the 's Hertogenbosch guild rules states, "7. All painters will be bound to work with good paints, and they will not make any paintings than on good dry oak planks or wainscot, being each color first dead-colored and this on a double ground…" It was not uncommon in the busier seventeenth-century studios that assistants worked up numbers of paintings to the dead-coloring stage that only needed to be finished by the master.
It is generally composed of a single resin, such as Dammar or a synthetic type.
Some of the dead-coloring can be made out here and there through abraded paint layers.
It has been remarked that more than one passage in appears unfinished and that this allows us to have a glimpse at Vermeer's underpainting although it is not out of the question that early restoration may be partially responsible for the loss of the uppermost paint layers.
The darkest parts are all painted with the same semi-transparent dark gray pigment, most likely a mixture of raw umber and black.
Here and there on the carpet's fore side we may observe the initial accents of local color.