What if I told you that from now on you cannot decorate any wall in your house without a painting? What will be your first reaction? You will probably think at first how weird this question is then slowly when you will really think about it in depth you will get to know the point! Yes, without painting, art the world is incomplete in a very unusual way. Today we are going to talk about one of the most curiosity rising and still a mystery world famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. You must have heard about if you are into arts even if you have not still you will get attracted to the story behind it. A great painter Johannes Vermeer Very little was known about Vermeer life and his work as a painter earlier. Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter born in 1632, even after his work was rediscovered by Gustav Friedrich Waagen and Theophile Thore- Burger in the 19th century who published an essay on him attributing 66 pictures to him; only 34 paintings are attributed to him even now! It was after the publication his work got wide attention and appreciation. He was born in Delft and lived his life there. It is unclear under whom he learned painting. Vermeer was a very well respected artist in his Delft but he was almost unknown outside it. In April 1653 he married a Catholic girl named Catherina Bolenes; it was before his marriage he converted to Catholic. His mother-in-law was wealthier than him and it was probably her who insisted he converts. Johannes Vermeer died after a short illness in December 1965. His wife bore him eleven children and was left with a debt to pay taken by Vermeer. He did a lot less work compared to other painters in his time period, several factors contributed to his limited work. Vermeer’s painting technique has always been a topic of debate. He is best known for his frequent use of the very expensive ultramarine (deep-blue color and an original pigment which was made by grinding lapiz lazuli, a deep blue metamorphic rock, into powder). Girl with a Pearl Earring Why is this painting so captivating? What is so interesting about this painting that since years people are looking for answers? Who was she? What is she thinking? Why “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is considered a masterpiece by Vermeer? Was she Vermeer daughter or lover? Looks like all these questions will remain unanswered! Let us tell you what we know about the painting. First of all, this is a “tronie”, tronie is a study of head and shoulders dressed in exotic clothing. One of the reasons why people are so fascinated by the painting is because very little is known about it. When we do not know the answer to something that becomes more interesting. In 1999, Tracy Chevalier wrote historical fiction imagining the circumstances behind the painting’s creation. The book was a hit and become a New York Best Seller and went on to sell 2 million copies in 36 languages worldwide. Later a movie was made on the novel starring Scarlet Johansson and Colin Firth directed by Peter Webber. Vermeer paintings always had some activity going on in it such as in “The Milkmaid” you can see middle age women pouring milk into another bowl, and in “The Concert” you can see a man and two women playing music. But in this tronie, there is no such situation. Unlike Vermeer’s other paintings she is not concentrating on a daily chore and is unaware of her viewer.
Girl with a Pearl Earring represents a young woman in a dark shallow space, the black and dark background does not draw any attention to itself rather than it highlights the girl, it comes as a very intimate scene. Some say the original color was blue it got faded with time and appears like black. She is wearing a gold jacket with a visible white color and a blue & golden turban. “Turbans” were a famous prop at that time and a lot of painter’s including Vermeer was open to the idea of painting turban. Turban also represented “slavery” and “influence” of other countries. The girl in the painting is caught on a fleeting moment she slightly turns her head over her shoulder, meeting the viewer’s gaze with her eyes wide and lips parted as if she is about to speak something with a large pearl earring dangling from her ear. This is what makes this painting stand out from the rest of the paintings. Her enigmatic expression coupled with other mysteries led to some comparing her with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. But unlike Mona Lisa, the Girl with a Pearl Earring is a tronie, not a portrait. Some scholars have theorized that Girl with a Pearl Earring may be a portrait of chastity as they found a connection between the painting and teachings of the 17th century bishop St. Francis De Sales, who wrote, “Both now and in the past it has been customary for women to hang pearls from their ears; as Pliny observed, they gain pleasure from the sensation of the swinging pearls touching them. But I know that God’s friend, Isaac, sent earrings to chaste Rebecca as the first token of his love. This leads me to think that this jewel has a spiritual meaning, namely that the first part of the body that a man wants, and which a woman must loyally protect, is the ear; no word or sound should enter it other than the sweet sound of chaste words, which are the oriental pearls of the gospel.” In December 2014, Vincent Icke, who is a professor of Theatrical astronomy, wrote in New Scientist that the light reflecting off the earring in Girl with a Pearl Earring, would not match with that of an actual pearl. The size of the pearl also raises doubts as Curators Quentin and Buvelot and Ariane van Suchtelen explained “Large pearls were rare and ended up in the hands of the richest people on the planet. In the seventeenth century, cheaper glass pearls, usually from Venice, were also quite common. They were made from glass, which was lacquered to give it a matte finish. Maybe the girl is wearing such a handcrafted ‘pearl’.” The Girl with a Pearl Earring is resting in The Mauritshuis an art museum in Hague (Netherlands). If you want to see this amazing painting you have to pay a visit to the museum itself.
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