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). 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 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 and moreover, the choice of colours that Vermeer has made is awesome. Another interesting and appealing feature of this painting is the depiction of light that is illuminating the girl’s innocent face.
The light is also highlighting the pearl earring and brings the pearl to prominence. This was done probably because of the title of the painting. Vermeer made the lighting effect possible by using oil paints. The pose of the girl shows that she is looking over her shoulder at the onlookers. She also appears to be lost in her own world and thoughts.
The head gear worn by the girl depicts the dressing culture of that era. It seems that wearing a turban (head gear) was a trendy fashion during that period. By using 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 colourful. But in ‘Girl with a pearl earring’ he has painted the background dark. In order to highlight the colours of the main object (the girl), Vermeer has used green yellowish-brown colour for the background.
The probable reason for this could be that Vermeer wanted his audience to give 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 colour gives a shimmering effect to 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 a great foresight.
As far as the identity of the girl in the picture is concerned, there are various theories and following are the major ones:
The most accurate of all the theories is supposed to be 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 undated.
According to some media sources, it is understood that the painting will be on a display tour at the De Young Museum, San Francisco during January – June 2013.