The chosen painting is called ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring.’ It is one of the most famous paintings of Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch painter. Vermeer painted this painting in the year 1665. He used oil as the medium and canvas as the base for the painting.
The size of the painting is 44.5 cm x 39 cm (17.5 in x 15 in), and it is a vertical composition. At times, this painting is also referred to as ‘The Mona Lisa of the North’ or even the ‘Dutch Mona Lisa.’ Presently, the painting can be viewed at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, The Netherlands. Following is a depiction of the painting:
This painting was chosen because the innocence on the face of the girl can be related to one’s self.
Moreover, Vermeer has made an awesome choice of colors. Another interesting and appealing feature of this work of art is the depiction of glow that is enlightening the character’s innocent face. The light is also highlighting the pearl earring that brings the pearl to prominence.
This was probably done to coincide with the title of the painting. Vermeer made the lighting effect possible by using oil paints. Despite the deep darkness that dominates the space, Vermeer made a great attempt to stabilize the painting by adding some fresh colors; such as, pale blue for the girl’s scarf, red lips, and the brown garment. The reflection of an invisible light that comes from the left side of the painting makes it lively.
The posture of the girl shows that she is looking over her shoulder at the onlookers with her glittery eyes. She appears to be lost in her world and thoughts. Her big eyes seem to be mysterious that makes the audience curious to know more about her.
The headgear worn by the girl depicts the dressing culture of that era. It seems that wearing a turban (headgear) was a trendy fashion during that period. By using a blue and gold combination of the turban, Vermeer has further added grandeur to the painting. The light falling on the turban reveals the folds of the turban. It shows the desire of Vermeer to highlight even the smallest details in his paintings.
Vermeer has shown the girl wearing a jacket, which makes us understand that the painting was set in the winter season. It is ironical to note that in his other paintings Vermeer has always painted the background very lively and colorful. In ‘Girl with a pearl earring’ he has painted the background dark. In order to highlight the colors of the main object (the girl), Vermeer has used green yellowish-brown color for the background.
The probable reason for this could be that Vermeer wanted his audience to pay more attention to the girl and the pearl earring that she is wearing. It may be said that Vermeer undoubtedly succeeded in his attempt. Also, the contrast between the background and the girl’s skin color gives a shimmering effect on the skin.
It has been argued by critics that the kind of earring that the girl is shown wearing was non-existent at that time. This means that Vermeer was an imaginative person and had great foresight. As far as the identity of the girl in the picture is concerned, there are various theories and some of them are mentioned below.
The most accurate (probably) of all the theories suggests that the girl in the painting is none other than Vermeer’s own daughter named Maria. She was born in 1654 and at the time Vermeer painted this picture, she must have been 11 years old. So considering the age, Maria is a strong contender. Another theory suggests that the girl is the daughter of Vermeer’s commissioner, Pieter Van Ruijven’s daughter.
One of the recent theories is based on the well admired and acclaimed film wherein Scarlet Johnson played the role of the girl. According to the storyline of the film, the girl has been depicted as being the servant of Vermeer. The painting is signed as ‘IVMeer’ and is updated.
Vermeer has used a brilliant thought in his painting, not to forget his hard efforts to create an extraordinary work that would remain immortal in the world of art. Such an artist, with such a vision and high skills, deserves a high reputation. Even after his demise, his dazzling work will continue to amaze the future generations