The lady who appears in six of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings wearing an elegant yellow jacket apparently trimmed with ermine (stoat) could never have afforded such a sumptuous garment. The fur trimming would actually have been squirrel or even cat, according to the catalogue of the current Vermeer retrospective at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum (until 4 June). Although most specialists doubt that Vermeer’s wife Catharina served as a regular model, an inventory records that she did own “a yellow satin mantle” with white unidentified fur trimming. The catalogue also reveals that in Girl with a Pearl Earring (1664-67), the model is probably sporting a glass bauble, not a real pearl, which would have been astronomically expensive at the time. Vermeer made full use of his artistic licence.