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Girl with a pearl earring

Painting, 1665, 44.5×39 cm

Description of the artwork «Girl with a pearl earring»

"Girl with a pearl earring" the most well – known painting by Jan Vermeer, which is often referred to as "the Northern (or Dutch) with the Mona Lisa". Himself a painter, like his fellow contemporaries, did not give names to her works. This is usually done by the solicitors, making a registry of clients ' property. Thus, in the inventory from 1676, made after the artist's death, are "two of the throne in the Turkish style" (the throne – portraits-fantasy). One of them, most likely, were this work. Later it was known as the "Girl in a turban" and "Face girl."

In 1881 the painting was bought at auction for just 2.3 Guilder (about $ 27 today) a collector, after whose death she came to the Mauritshuis. In 1995, before preparing for the Vermeer retrospective in Washington, canvas and gave the name of the Meisje met de parel (Girl with a Perl Earring). Four years later, the writer Tracy Chevalier has fixed it in the novel, which formed the basis for the film with Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson in the lead roles.

Vermeer created the painting in approximately 1665 – 1667. As already mentioned, it is "the throne", that is not a custom portrait of a specific person, but Studio Fantasia, depicting an anonymous model with an unusual facial expression or, as in this case, in a strange costume. So we don't know who posed for the artist. There is speculation, that his eldest daughter Maria, which at that time was 12 – 14 years.

Jan Vermeer was a master of light. Here he showed his talent, masterfully depicting the soft radiance of the girl and glares at her wet lips. The artist used a unique combination of cream colors and pigments, so the model's face so effectively contrasts with the dark background, where the primers used green ochre. But the thing that attracts the viewer's attention is, of course, a large earring.

Around this decoration turned serious disputes. Some researchers indicate that it is unlikely the size and of a strange brilliance, as if it's made of metal or painted with metal paint.

So, in November 2014 the Dutch astrophysicist and Amateur artist Vincent ICA wrote in the journal New Scientist: "...the main doubt is the reflection of the white collar in the bottom of the beads. If it is pearl, it comprises thin layers of calcite that scatter and refract light of different lengths. This creates the famous soft white pearl — gloss. Instead, we see a bright specular highlight in the upper left part of decoration and reflection of the piece of clothing down...". Professor ICA believes that the earring is made of "silver or maybe polished tin".

In response, the Mauritshuis published the following: "Article Vincent ICA confirms what we wrote about the "Girl with a pearl earring" of Johannes Vermeer some time ago... In the Museum's description of the painting also mentions the unrealistic size of the pearl. Vincent ICA comes to the same conclusion, but through a different understanding and learning. The Mauritshuis with great interest the results. This illustrates why Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century, so interesting: all is not what it seems".

The curators of the Mauritshuis Quentin Buvalo and Ariana van Suchtelen previously noted: "The pearl in the ear of the girl amazingly big. [...] In the seventeenth century, large pearls were rare and were the richest people in the world. But was quite common cheaper glass pearls, usually from Venice. They were made of glass, which gave a matte finish. It is possible that girl's such a pearl handmade".

Answering the arguments of Vincent IR, Ariana van Suchtelen points: the picture — more of a fantasy than a portrait. Big jewelry could be just artistic exaggeration. "IR definitely right, if we assume that there is one to one shows the reality"— says the art critic. But, she said, partly fiction: "I am sure that Vermeer had intended to convey in paint the illusion of pearls".

The Dutchwoman was echoed by her colleague, curator of the National gallery of art in Washington, Arthur Wheelock. He believes that Vermeer was more interested in the experience than "accuracy", but because the pearl is so large and shiny. In the end, it is the main element of the picture, and if the artist meticulously depicted mother-of-pearl surface, it would look "a bit boring".

"I'm not sure you would want to get a large fuzzy object right in the center says Wheelock. — We must remember that he was an artist, not a photographer or expert on pearls. It's not his occupation".


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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Baroque

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1665

Size: 44.5×39 cm

Artwork in selections: 103 selections

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