Home Art It Was No Pearl Earring, Mates

It Was No Pearl Earring, Mates


Johannes Vermeer, “Woman with a Pearl Earring” (1664-67) (picture courtesy Mauritshuis, The Hague)

Followers and students is perhaps shocked to be taught that the earring in Johannes Vermeer’s “Woman with a Pearl Earring” (1664–67) might have been an imitation gem. The work is without doubt one of the Dutch artist’s most iconic work and impressed a 1995 historic novel that was tailored into a 2003 movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. This discovery is one in all many explored by the Rijksmuseum’s Vermeer retrospective, which opened on February 10.

Vermeer brings collectively new analysis and 28 work, a lot of which establishments such because the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York, the Nationwide Gallery of Eire in Dublin, and the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork in Washington, DC, have loaned. The Mauritshuis museum within the Hague lent the “Woman with a Pearl Earring” to the present. Guests can even discover the present via an on-line exhibition launched on January 16, permitting Vermeer lovers to view the works in ultra-high decision pictures capturing even the tiniest of cracks and fissures within the aged canvases.

The gorgeous conclusion concerning the famed earring comes within the present’s co-curator Pieter Roelofs’s essay about Vermeer’s flip in the direction of a Dutch Golden Age kind of examine referred to as the “tronie” within the mid-1660s. In contrast to a portrait displaying a residing individual, this style depicts a fictitious scene, fabricating components just like the backdrop, garments, or equipment, even when a painter makes use of a mannequin. Roelofs writes that the long-lasting Dutch painter was occupied with utilizing the style to discover how gentle and shadows work together with a face.

Set up view of “Woman with a Pearl Earring” (photograph by Henk Wildschut, courtesy the Rijksmuseum)

Roelof notes that every one 4 of Vermeer’s tronies, “Woman with a Flute,” “Woman with a Crimson Hat,” “Woman with a Veil,” and “Woman with a Pearl Earring,” function these so-called “pearls.” About half of the Dutch painter’s works embrace pearl earrings or necklaces that have been in trend within the latter portion of the seventeenth century. Nevertheless, this jewellery needed to be shipped to the Netherlands from South Asia and was exorbitantly priced in consequence. The tronie that highlights the earring has the biggest gem of the 4 research. Roelofs explains that primarily based on the dimensions and weight of most pearls imported on the time, Vermeer wouldn’t have been capable of afford the earrings he painted and certain referenced imitation glass pearls as an alternative. 

Discoveries such because the faux earring and the artist’s curiosity within the digicam obscura, which he acquired via encounters with Jesuit monks, excite artwork historians as a lot about Vermeer’s life as a painter has remained a thriller. Vermeer solely created about 37 identified works. Some marvel if an apprentice created works like “Woman with a Flute” and have even speculated his daughter Maria was the pupil. She can also be thought to have been the mannequin for “Woman with a Pearl Earring.” 


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