Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter renowned for his painting the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” as one of his major masterpieces. The reflective earring is the dominant point of the painting. Initially, the painting had been named as the “Girl with a Turban” but during the second part of the twentieth century, it was renamed to what it is referred to as now. Some of Johannes Vermeer admirers think that the interaction between the girl’s eyes and the viewer of the painting is the real focal point (Chevalier, 2005).

In his previous paintings, the posers in his paintings have never been identified in any of his portraits. Some art critics point out that it may be Vermeer’s daughter Maria posing in this painting (Gent, 2008). At this point in time of the painting, the girl would be estimated to be 12 or 13 years when he created this masterpiece. There appears to be similar features in the faces of the posers in his other paintings to that of the Girl with a Pearl Earring; though, due to different ambiances of the paintings and poses, similarities are somewhat difficult to establish.

The Mauritshuis Gallery in The Hague is where this particular painting is located. Some have referred to this painting as the Mona Lisa of the North, an allure of the Mona Lisa, and others have nicknamed it also as the Dutch Mona Lisa. “IVMeer” is the signature on the painting and there is no date accompanying it (Chevalier, 2003). In comparison to his other paintings, this awes the viewers the most; it is probably because of how the girl looks over her shoulder, drawing attention from the viewer. It radiates the feeling that the girl is actually turning to look at the viewer of the painting.

The women in Vermeer’s paintings were more often than not portrayed in a deep thought-provoking facade that speaks to the uniformity in his subject matter. The highlights on the girls’ turban and the light property are a brand that belongs to Vermeer. The strokes of the pearl are not in excess of two brushstrokes, with the girl gawking with natural, wide eyes, making her seem to be lost in thought. The canvas on which the Girl with a Pearl Earring was painted measured 17.5 inches by 15 inches and the masterpiece was done in oil paint.

A three dimensional feeling is created by the dark background of the painting to the subject of the painting. Vermeer used this perspective in his paintings, as it seemed to be adapted by most of the other Dutch painters as it was so much present in their paintings. The green ocher tone used as an undercoat made the painting colors of the posers appear more vibrant; this was Vermeer’s style of painting. In this masterpiece, his skill with under painting produced this three-dimensional appearance and the girl’s skin distinct with the background, radiating a glowing effect (Eder, 2000).

His use of light was escalated by the white-based undercoat that deepened the reflective exteriors of the pearl earring. It also radiated the girl’s lips and eyes in the painting, appearing to be glowing. The dress is enhanced and given a realistic impression as a result of the undercoat and takes after the actual material in the painting. As light moves across the painting, it gives the impression of movement, due to the final thin layer added.

Chevalier, Tracy (September 2005). Girl With a Pearl Earring Deluxe Edition. Penguin Group. pp. ix–xvi. ISBN 0-452-28702-2.

Chevalier, Tracy (December 28, 2003). “Mother of Pearl”. Retrieved 2009-06-18.

Sheppard, R.Z. “A Portrait of Radiance” Time. January 9, 2000. Retrieved November 13, 2010.

“Best Sellers Plus” The New York Times. February 27, 2000. Retrieved November 13, 2010.

Gent, Paul (September 23, 2008). “Tracy Chevalier on Letting Go of Girl with a Pearl Earring”. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-06-18.

“This Pearl is a Diamond”. Publishers Weekly. Vol. 249. Issue 4. January 28, 2002.

Eder, Richard. “Master Vermeer, Isn’t It, Um, Missing a Little Spark?” The New York Times. January 24, 2000. Retrieved November 13, 2010.