When Johannes Vermeer painted The Girl with a Pearl Earring, he could not have predicted that his work would be in an important place in the history of World Art.
In general, Vermeer was a painter who gained a reputation for his daily contemporary lives, domestic spaces, and portraits of women. He liked to depict daily life in his paintings. (The Milkmaid, Saint Praxedis, Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Woman Holding a Balance, The Geographer can be given as examples.)
So why did The Girl with a Pearl Earring stand out more than Jan Vermeer’s other works?
Why is it called the ‘The Mona Lisa of the North’?
What makes Girl with a Pearl Earring so popular?
Do we know who the Girl with the Pearl Earring is?
Which techniques are used in the work? You will find answers to all these questions in this content.
Now we leave you with the mysterious looks and charisma of The Girl with a Pearl Earring.
8 Things You Need To Know About Johannes Vermeer ‘s The Girl with a Pearl Earring
1- ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’ is a Tronie
In fact, it looks like a normal portrait, but when we research the features of the painting closely, we can see that it is actually a tronie.
What is tronie?
Tronie is the name given to a type of work common in Dutch Golden Age painting and Flemish Baroque painting that depicts an exaggerated facial expression or people in costume.
Tronie means ‘face‘ in 17 th century Dutch and refers to a group of paintings depicting an unknown person, sometimes with an exaggerated facial expression, sometimes in an extraordinary and glamorous costume. Essentially, it is an idealized work of faces or characters that comes alive in the artists’ imagination.
The difference between portrait and tronie is that the person depicted in the portrait is a familiar face and is painted to order, while the tronie is sold in the art market.
2- No one knows who the girl is for sure!
The name of the girl on the painting is unknown and there are various assumptions about her identity.
It is thought that she could be Jan Vermeer’s daughter or maid. However, the fact that Maria, Vermeer’s eldest daughter, was 11 years old at the time and the model in the picture looks bigger, weakens the possibility.
Who the girl in the picture was, could not be determined by her clothing. Silk scarf and pearl earrings were the only fancy accessories of the girl. Possessing such an earring, the girl’s father or husband might have been rich.
Vermeer, by skillfully depicting the girl’s vivid expression and exotic dress, may have reflected a character in his dreams, as he only wanted to work on her outfit and expression, rather than painting her portrait.
3- The painting has different names also.
Except for The Girl with a Pearl Earring, this painting is also called ‘Girl in a Turban‘, ‘The Young Girl with a Turban‘.
It is sometimes referred to as the ‘The Mona Lisa of the North‘ because of the mysterious gaze in her eyes that makes her expression incomprehensible.
4- Earing might not be a real pearl.
Vincent Icke, a Professor at the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, wrote in New Scientist in December 2014 that the light reflected from the pearl in the painting does not match that of a real pearl.
Curator Quentin Buvelot explained that “Large pearls were rare and ended up in the hands of the richest people on the planet. In the seventeenth century, cheaper glass pearls, usually from Venice, were also quite common. They were made from glass, which was lacquered to give it a matte finish. Maybe the girl is wearing such a handcrafted ‘pearl’.”
5- The background which is now black was once glossy green.
When the painting was restored in modern times; It was determined that there were indigo and weld traces that brightened the dark undercoat. The glaze of this glaze mixture, which brightened the dark undercoat, was broken during the restoration, resulting in a change in the color of the painting.
6- The paint used to paint the girl’s turban was extremely expensive.
Jan Vermeer created the dark blue paint he used on the turban by crushing the precious blue stones called lapis lazuli. This paint is the one used by only a few of its contemporaries.
Vermeer used this paint in times of financial hardship even though it was very expensive. He could do so because of the funding he got from a generous patron; Pieter van Ruijven.
7- The Girl with a Pearl Earring will never go out of the museum where it is exhibited!
The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, which is currently exhibited at the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, Netherlands, had previously met with art lovers in Japan, Italy, and the United States. The work, which completed its art tour in 2014, was made to remain in the Royal Picture Gallery of Mauritshuis for the following period.
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8- Johannes Vermeer’s mirrors
“Vermeer placed a lot of mirrors everywhere in the room he painted in. He did this to guide his hands and analyze how they are moving while he painted ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. “When you think about the Mona Lisa, she is also looking at us, but she isn’t engaging – she’s sitting back in the painting, self-contained, whereas Girl with a Pearl Earring is right there – there is nothing between her and us.
She has this magical quality of being incredibly open and yet mysterious at the same time – and that is what makes her so appealing”.
Tracy Chevalier (author)
The Girl with a Pearl Earring still remains one of the most famous artworks in the world today, and each period has a mystery that makes it more interesting and people across the globe curious.