During the first part of the century, Harlem was the leading centre of art in Holland, but in the mid-17th century it was superseded by Delft, a small city near Den Haag. Painting in Delft had a unique character. Works were characterised by an emphasis on local colour, with a preference for cool blue-grey tones, and a painterly but extensive total perception. Dramatic chiaroscuro was replaced by lighter pictorial space. Another feature of the style is the almost "classical" peace, which permeates all Delft school works. Subject matter included everyday situations without the exaggeration, hectic movements, and overemphasised gestures embraced elsewhere.
One of the early key figures amongst the Delft painters was Carel Fabritius (1622-54), a groundbreaking artist, thought to be a student of Rembrandt, who executed his most striking work, "The Goldfinch", shortly before his death. The main master of the Delft school was Jan Vermeer (1632-75), an artist whose works were frequently faked in the 20th century, and who left a small, but important legacy. His domestic scenes and portraits, and particularly his "View of Delft" and the atmospheric "Street in Delft" are some of the key achievements of the Dutch high baroque. After initially executing paintings emphasising contrast and movement. Vermeer found his style, which was characterised by still life-influenced scenes and an intimate perspective. The atmospheric, fleeting light in his images is often thought to be the result of using a camera obscura, or another optic device, and emphasised the light ground and blue and yellow-hued local colour. A more traditional artist was Pieter de Hooch (1629-84), who later worked in Delft, and whose work can be linked to the Delft school. In contrast with Vermeer, whom he imitated in his "Woman weighing Gold" (now in Berlin), de Hooch frequently emphasised the spatial depth of his images (also by using chessboard-like chequered floors and interior views) and bathed dynamically arranged scenes in strong contrasts.