Girl With a Pearl Earring

This famed piece of art has passed through many names and hands and was even stolen during the Nazi regime. What makes it so appealing and beautiful to the beholders?

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is one of the most established and recognized works of art. It is instantly recognizable. It draws the viewer’s attention, even known as the “Mona Lisa of the North.” 

This painting has several qualities that make it stand out. For one, we do not know who the subject of the piece is. Although you may have watched the movie about this painting, it is only a work of fiction. The painting is thought to be a “tronie,” or a portrait of a fictional person in costume. In this case, the painting is even more admired because the unique lighting looks incredibly realistic. Another factor is the subject’s pose; she is shown from her side, tilting her head to look towards the viewer. She has an air of mystery because we do not know if she is turning towards or away from the viewer as the ambiguous tilt of her lips draws the viewer into the painting. 

The famed pearl is also of interest; it is deeply in the shadows, and it is only shown through two delicate brushstrokes. The rest of the pearl is undefined, melding into the skin tone of the subject. It is masterfully portrayed in this way, suggesting a solid object with very slight brushstrokes, a compliment to the artist’s mastery.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring as a full piece is charming in this unexpected use of contrast; the planes of her face are soft, while the yellow headscarf falls into harder edges. Its quiet beauty comes from the techniques displayed in muted color, and its entice stands the test of time.

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