Girl with a Pearl Earring
The Girl with a Pearl Earring by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer is one his major masterpieces. The focal point of the painting is the reflective pearl earring. The painting was first called Girl with a Turban but was renamed in the second part of the twentieth century. Some believe the real focal point of the painting is the way the girls’ eyes interact with the person viewing the painting.
Vermeer had never have identified any sitter posing for any of his portraits and that includes the young woman who posed for the Girl with a Pearl Earring painting. Some art critics have stated that the girl may have been one of Vermeer’s daughters named Maria. Maria would be approximately 12 or 13 years old at the time Vermeer created his masterpiece, Girl with a Pearl Earring. Several of Vermeer’s paintings have similar facial features to the Girl with a Pearl Earring, but due to the different poses and lighting in the various paintings comparisons are difficult to establish.
Girl with a Pearl Earring is located in the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague. Some have called this painting the Mona Lisa of the North and some have called it the Dutch Mona Lisa. The signature on the painting is signed “IVMeer” and it is does not have a date on it. This painting is the best-loved painting by Vermeer possibly because of the way the girl is looking over her shoulder, which draws the attention from the viewer, giving a feeling her head turns to see the viewer. The women in Vermeer’s paintings were usually depicted in a deep thought-provoking poses that speaks to the uniformity in his subjects.
The light effects and the highlights on the turban on the girls’ head are a trademark that belongs to Vermeer. The pearl is made up of no more than two brushstrokes, with the girl gazing with uninhibited, wide eyes, making her appear lost in thought. Girl with a Pearl Earring was painted as oil on canvas that measured 17.5 inches by 15 inches.
The dark background of the painting helped to create a three-dimensional feeling to the subject of the painting. This was a Dutch custom used by Vermeer in his some of his paintings. The use of green ochre tone was used by Vermeer as an undercoating in the painting that made colors of the figure more vibrant. His skill with under painting created this three-dimensional look and the girl’s skin contrasts with the background, creating a glowing effect.
Vermeer’s use of light was dramatized by the white-based undercoat that intensified the reflective surfaces of the pearl earring as well as the eyes and lips of the girl in the painting. The girl’s dress is enhanced by the use of the undercoating that gives a realistic impression of the actual material in the painting. A thin final layer on the painting adds movement to the work as light moves across the painting.