Image via http://www.art-reproductions.net/vermeer-jan/girl-with-a-pearl-earring-around-1665
I’ve always enjoyed reading historical fiction, primarily because I have the opportunity to “travel” back in time. I can imagine being a princess or even a servant girl in the 1600s. The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier is one of my favorite novels because it describes what might have happened during the painting’s creation. In the novel, the artist Vermeer hires a servant girl to be his assistant and asks her to sit for him while wearing one of his wife’s pearl earnings. This novel has it all; romance, deception and intrigue. The novel inspired a film and a play by the same name.
The painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is currently housed in the Mauritshuis gallery in Hague. The Girl with a Pearl Earring is sometimes referred to as ‘the Dutch Mona Lisa,’ because of the young girl’s expression and the mystery behind the painting. Who is the young girl in the painting? What is the significance of the turban and pearl in the painting? Was this painting commissioned?
One of the reasons I like the painting Girl with the Pearl Earring is because the young girl cannot be placed into a specific context. The young girl seems ageless and could be from any background. Some researchers believe the model for this painting is Vermeer’s eldest daughter, Maria. Maria was approximately twelve years old around the time the painting is believed to be created. Similarly, Magdalena Van Ruijven, the daughter of Vermeer’s principle patron Pieter Van Ruijven, may have sat for the painting. Or perhaps, a servant girl is the Girl with the Pearl Earring like Tracy Chevalier describes in her novel.
To learn more about the painting, please read “The Girl with a Pearl Earring: An In-Depth Study”.
- Samantha Bradbeer
Girl Museum, Inc.