A Girl with a Pearl Earring by Jan Vermeer


A Girl with a Pearl Earring


Jan Vermeer

Ref SPT8866
Type Print
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Girl with a Pearl Earring was originally titled Girl with a Turban and it wasn't until the second half of the twentieth century that the name was changed. Regarded as Vermeer's masterpiece, this canvas is often referred to as the Mona Lisa of the North or the Dutch Mona Lisa. The girl in this painting is believed to be Vermeer's eldest daughter, Maria, who was about twelve or thirteen-years-old at the time it was created. Her facial features appear in several of Vermeer's works but his various techniques on his subject make it difficult to compare the female faces in his paintings, as the woman are portrayed in different lighting conditions and poses. There is very little information about Vermeer and his paintings. Girl with a Pearl Earring is signed "IVMeer" but there is no date on this work. It remains unknown whether or not this canvas was commissioned and if so, by whom. It's more likely that this image was a tronie, Dutch 17th-century description of a 'head' painting that was not intended as a portrait. With this painting the viewer is captured by the subject and believes they have caught her attention and caused her to turn her head. This is a sensual painting with the girl gazing at the viewer with wide eyes and a parted mouth and there is an air of mystery surrounding her identity. In 1994 this canvas was restored which involved removing the yellowed varnish along with the retouches that had been made during previous restorations. This resulted in the vivid colours originally used by Vermeer shining through and the intimacy of the girl's gaze was also greatly enhanced. Girl with a Pearl Earring is Vermeer’s most famous painting and one of the most recognisable pieces of art of all time. Vermeer mastered shadow and light in his work. He shows the softness of the girls’ face, the playful reflection in her eyes and the glimmer of light in the pearl earring marking this as a striking and engaging piece. Completed in 1665, this is not a portrait but a “tronie”- the figure is a figment of Vermeer’s imagination. Tronies usually depict a character, in this case a girl who is wearing a fashionable, exotic dress and wears an oriental turban and most importantly, a large pearl in her ear.