See also this excerpt from this page about Vermeer:
"It is believed that the curious bluish tone of the foliage in The Little Street is due to the fact that the yellow lake, which mixed together with a blue original created the proper green tone, has faded with time. One of the names given to a common yellow lake was "schijtgeel", weld or fading yellow as it is called. As almost every other painters of the time, Vermeer used, red madder, a ruby red pigment noted for its brilliancy and transparency, but fugitive when applied in very thin layers. Madder is an organic pigment derived from the roots of the madder plant. Vermeer glazed (see glaze - glazing and Vermeer's palette for an in-depth study of artist's pigments) . The rather dull appearance of some of the flesh tones in Vermeer's faces may be due to the fact that red madder, has faded leaving the white/yellow mixture to dominate. Another example of a glaze which has in time faded in Vermeer's painting can be found in the Girl with a Pearl Earring. Presently, the picture's background appears uneven and spotted. During the 1994-1995 restoration it became clear that this appearance had been caused by the degraded composition of a peculiar glaze used by Vermeer. It was ascertained that the background was originally meant to have a deep greenish tone which can no longer been seen. Vermeer had glazed a very transparent layer of indigo mixed with weld over the dark black underpainting. Indigo and weld are both pigments of organic origin. Indigo is deep blue dyestuff derived from the indigo plant, weld is a natural yellow dyestuff obtained from the flowers of the wouw or woude plant as it was called in Dutch. Mixed together with a rich binding medium (linseed oil) they form a transparent greenish tone. Weld was widely used for dying silk since it was one of the purest and yellow shades available but was equally valuable to the artist. It seems that Vermeer used indigo only rarely."
And this Scientific American article about some of the Van Gogh color problems caused by an at the time modern chromium based yellow switching oxidation state: