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Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer
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Artist: Johannes Vermeer    Image Code: V03765

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  • Artist: Johannes Vermeer

    Johannes Vermeer (1632-December 1675) is perhaps one of the most admired and most frequently discussed artists from the Dutch school, and yet very little is known about him. Vermeer lived and worked for most of his life in Delft, where he produced a fairly small number of paintings. Of the estimated 45 that most scholars agree he created, only 36 are known today. Celebrated for his genre scenes, particularly his intricate interiors, and his careful use of bright, vivid colors such as yellow and cornflower blue, he enjoyed moderate success in his lifetime. However, when the Dutch economy took a severe hit in 1672, Vermeer and his family faced poverty and turmoil. Eventually falling ill in 1675, Vermeer died suddenly at the age of 43, leaving his wife and 11 children to struggle and subsequently sell his few paintings at devastatingly low prices, whereby he fell into obscurity. Luckily, his work was rediscovered in the nineteenth century, and since his renewed popularity, has fascinated scholars with his astonishing technical ability, attention to detail, and his seamless combination of traditional iconography and innovative formal techniques. 

    View all of Johannes Vermeer's work.

  • Artwork Details

    Referred to by admirers as "the Mona Lisa of the North," Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is a stunning painting that, while undated, is believed to have been created around 1665. Vermeer, a Dutch master, is famous for his use of vibrant colors and carefully composed works. The Girl's gaze over her shoulder draws the viewer in, her expression as enigmatic as it is intriguing. Recent studies have categorized the painting as a tronie, a Dutch tradition in painting of a face that is less formal than a classical portrait. Purchased in 1881 for a meager sum and eventually donated the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague in Vermeer's home country of the Netherlands, Girl with a Pearl Earring's focal point of the single, titular earring stands out against the dark background. Very little is known both about the origins of this painting as well as Vermeer himself, and yet it is one of the most iconic images in the Western canon of art.