‘Christ in the House of Martha and Mary’, Jan Vermeer van Delft, 1654
Martha is voicing her grievance to Jesus, but the atmosphere does not seem to be strained. The reverse, in fact. This is a quiet family discussion at its best, with each person respectfully expressing what they feel..
Vermeer painted very few religious pictures, and it is typical of him that when he did he used an intimate, rather homely setting. Jesus is relaxed, quiet, and Martha and Mary are comfortable, at ease in their own home. This is not as accomplished a painting are most of Vermeer’s, and so it is assumed that he painted it when he was still only a young man, experimenting with different painterly techniques. Bible reference: Luke 10:38-42
Martha complains about Mary
Martha reproving her sister Mary, Orazio Gentileschi, 1620
Notice the body language in this painting by Gentileschi. Martha is conciliatory with her right hand but assertive with her left; she leans forward to show that this is a matter of some urgency; she really needs help in the kitchen. Mary is seemingly relaxed, but her face and right hand leave no doubt about what she intends to do, or about who is at the end of that pointing right hand.