His Most Famous Painting (Girl With a Pearl Earring) – Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer, or simply Vermeer (born, 1632) was a Dutch painter who could feature domesticity and everyday life with photographic precision. He was a master of bright pigments, light effect, and brush strokes that yield him the honor of being reckoned as one of the greatest Dutch painters of all times. Little is known about how Vermeer achieved such real life perfection in his works. Speculations about his use of a camera-like device, ‘Camera Obscura,’ have always existed, yet no definitive proof of same could ever be discovered. Of the stunning spectrum of Vermeer’s works, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is one of his masterpieces.

Johannes created his monumental work “Girl with a Pearl Earring” during 1665-66, which is impressive 17.5″ X 15.4″ oil on canvas, currently gracing the Royal Cabinet of Paintings at Mauritshuis, The Hague. Often compared to Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa,’ the painting revolves a figurative theme, which is simple, yet alluring. The central character of the painting is an ordinary girl, turned sideways to look at someone behind her, most likely the viewer. Her gaze suggests curiosity and sensuousness at the same time. In fact, the intriguing expression on the girl’s face makes it difficult to associate a definite interpretation to it, and it is here, that it acquires a striking resemblance to the mixed emotions displayed in ‘Mona Lisa.’ Therefore, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is also referred to as “the Mona Lisa of the North” or “Dutch Mona Lisa.”

Vermeer’s masterstroke with the interplay of background light, adds life to the resplendent color scheme of the piece. The girl has worn a pale muddy brown colored turban tied in an unorthodox fashion, the inspiration of which seems to have been drawn from the masculine styles. The part of the turban, wrapped around the head, is set in a highly expensive pigment known as ‘Ultramarine,’ made out of a crushed semi precious stone, lapis lazuli. This gives a rich, glistening blue appearance to the turban. Every crease and fold of the apparel is meticulously delineated in the painting.

The girl’s large, shining pearl earring attracts enough attention to make it the focal point of the painting. Apart from its significance as a piece of jewelry, pearl also symbolizes the virginity of the protagonist. Contemporary trends influenced the design of the earring, while the size was considerably enlarged to emphasize upon the subject of an expectant virgin. Vermeer has used his characteristic speckled methodology of applying paint, known as pointille. Some part of the painting also bears a semblance with the technique of ‘Pointillism,’ as distinguished from e. For instance, the visible corner of her mouth is highlighted with light colored points. Overall, Johannes’ “Girl with a Pearl Earring” remains a masterpiece, where the artist has achieved a great feat of representing the most explicit expressions in the most subtle way, inspiring a bestseller, a play, and a successful movie with the same title!

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