The image “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was created by talented Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer who lived and worked in the 17th century. This painting has an interesting legend and various titles. It was called “Girl in a turban,” “The young girl with a turban,” “Head of a young girl,” and “Head of a girl in a turban.” It is often named as the Dutch Mona Lisa or the Mona Lisa of the North.
Vermeer painted his picture in 1665. It was made in accordance with the existing Art Movement named Baroque. Speaking of the size of the painting and its structure, it is 44.50 cm in height and 39.00 cm in length and is oil on canvas. At first sight, it is a portrait; however, most arguments prove that it is a tronie. Creating a tonne, artists previously focused on the examination of models facial expressions. Portraits mostly stated the person’s place in the society showing one’s status and religious membership. Some of the scientists are convinced that the girl on canvas is Vermeer’s daughter. However, it is only a suggestion, and you couldn’t find historical persuasions for this.
The picture was later used as a base for the historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier. The narration has the same title and represents the love story between the artist and his maid. Though, there are no any historical facts that can force us to believe in this story as a true.
“Girl with a Pearl Earring” is presently placed in The Hague, Netherlands and can be seen at the Mauritshuis Museum particularly in the Royal Picture Gallery which is the owner of mentioned masterwork.
Collected information about Vermeer states that he was one of the widely known Dutch Realists artists of the 17th century. Actually, he had the lead in the Delft School of Dutch Baroque Art. He was known for his home interiors: the window is always seen from the left for giving a light and a female just posing or doing a specific task. An artist was especially talented in picturing women’s heads, and this fact made him a famous portraitist.
Vermeer was working at the era of Baroque. In this era, artists weren’t dictated what subject to pick up. They could represent the taken subject in any way they wanted, bringing to the life new techniques and methods. Johannes Vermeer was concentrating previously on chiaroscuro and became very talented in this technique. He mostly made his focal points of the things he observed and didn’t create many portraits of himself. The master didn’t state the aim to tell the story in his pictures, though he previously focused on a determined moment of acting and the viewer had the chance to create a narration himself.
Composition and the implication of the picture
The architecture of “Girl with a Pearl Earring” isn’t too complicated. The single subject here is the head of a figure. The artist pictured a young girl with her head turned towards him. It’s a kind of those painters where the figure is gazing straight into your eyes. However, she isn’t staring at you or at the painter; she is looking beyond having something on her mind. Anyway, her gaze is delicate and gentle. The girl, the artist, pictured is likely ready to move her eyes and looks like alive. She is sitting in a usual ordinary pose, making everyone believe that it wasn’t a planned and artificially created painting. This fact is also proved by slightly opened mouth expressing immediacy.
She is wearing brown clothes that wrap her body, shoulders, and neck and contradicts with a white shirt underneath. This kind of brown is a simple one and helps to decide that the girl correlated with the medial classes. The painting girl is wearing a turban that wasn’t usual for her contemporaries. This occasion creates the impression of exoticness.
The most remarkable part of the paint is the pearl earring. Earring, the girl, has is extremely massive and noticeable. It should be mentioned, that this model of jewelry is presented not only in “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” If we examine all the works that Vermeer painted, we can easily find out that such decoration is pictured in others paintings. Among them “A Woman Brought a Letter by a Maid” could be named.
The meaning of the picture lays mainly in two things: the turban and the earl. Using a turban in his painting, the artist is struggling to show the difference from ordinary women. Obviously, Vermeer was thinking of a role of women in his society. It was commonly appreciated in Christianity that women should stay at home and bring up their children. At first sight, their role is meaningless and useless. Though, they had a great influence on safekeeping and continuance the moral principles and customs.
In those times, everyone had a strict picture of a female, stated who they are, what should they wear and do. However, Vermeer shows that this picture can be different. They can be unusual and not ordinary, and it is completely normal. In his work, Vermeer uses the turban to expresses this idea. This thing wasn’t common hair wearing among his equals. The artist showed the girl with an unusual thing and allowed female to be contrastive. The turban was also restating the effect of other territories on European culture.
Speaking of the earl, it is useful to remind the thesis of mystic De Sales. He stated that women should protect their ears from dirty words and allow them to receive only chaste words. Obviously, with this painting, the artist forced to express the concept of chastity. In the earl a sacred meaning is hidden. De Sales was sure that the main part of the women’s body that needs delicate protection is their ears. Pearl earring was placed for that purpose.
Methods the author used while painting and the prevailing techniques
The whole picture is divided into the dark and bright fields. The base consists of thick yellow and white layer. The dark space was established by the combination of dark and ground pigments that were improved with a paler tint. The shades of the girl’s nose were underlined with red and the shiny spaces of her nose, cheek, and forehead are highlighted with cream color. Different shades of dark blue and white combination were used for painting the turban.
The artist built up all the parts tentatively. After longtime examination and discovering, the scientists came up to the opinion that Vermeer used in his paintings the method of camera obscura. This fact explains the extraordinary naturalness of his pictures.
- Girl with a pearl earring: Dutch paintings from the Mauritshuis, Lea van derVinde – Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco – 2013
- Girl with a pearl earring, Tracy Chevalier – Plume – 2001
- Girl with a pearl earring: teacher text guides & worksheets, Angie Barillaro – Radiant Heart Publishing, Angie Barillaro – 2011