Johannes Vermeer: View of Houses in Delft, known as 'The Little Street' (c. 1658), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Some of the so-called ‘Masterpieces of World Art’ are so famous because they offer us spectacular views (like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel), dramatic impact (like Munch’s Scream) or fairy-tale beauty (like Botticelli’s Venus). Other works of art gain fame because of the story behind them (think of Van Gogh’s works or Picasso’s Guernica).
The Little Street, painted around 1658 by Johannes Vermeer, has none of these features. First of all, the subject is very ordinary: just an alleyway in a town in seventeenth-century Holland. The action is limited to some women doing domestic work. No exotic or supernatural beauty hits the eye of the beholder. And nothing at all is known about what Vermeer wanted to express with his painting. Moreover, hardly anything is known about Vermeer himself!
The Little Street earns its greatness purely by Vermeer’s ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. The magic of this every day scene is revealed in the wonderful lighting and atmosphere that lifts the scene up to a higher level; the subtle way, loose but precise, with which the bricks and windows are painted; and the way Vermeer framed the event, which gives the work an almost snapshot-like effect.
The exact location for Vermeer's Little Street is uncertain and has been surveyed and discussed for a long, long time. For those who want to read more about this problem, I suggest the following site, which contains a lot of interesting information on this specific topic: