Girl With a Pearl Earring: Vermeer’s Mysterious Dutch Woman!

The Girl with a pearl earring painting in red gradient background.

Paintings are a reflection of an artist’s intellect. They represent a very unfamiliar side of the person who’s painting it. 

Some paintings like Starry Night and Sunflowers speak up for the artist’s agony. 

Some artworks such as The Mona Lisa painting and Salvator Mundi narrate the story about the artist’s perspective in detail. 

However, there’s a painting that falls under neither of the umbrellas. It rather depicts the dynamics of the artist’s philosophy intersecting with his creative liberty.

Girl with a pearl earring is an artwork by the Dutch maestro Johannes Vermeer. 

It’s an oil on canvas painting depicting a woman gazing towards the painter in a very mysterious way. 

It’s not an easy task to comprehend this painting at a glance. It contains multiple layers of perspective!

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Let’s decode them step by step in this blog!

Historical Context Behind Girl with A Pearl Earring Painting

Painted in 1665, Girl with a pearl earring painting has been misinterpreted as a portrait. 

Actually, it’s a tronie which refers to a painting that illustrates facial expressions of a subject in the most exaggerated manner. 

Unlike Vermeer’s other compositions, Girl with a pearl earring painting depicts a woman who’s not doing any daily tasks. 

She’s just gazing at the onlooker in a very opulent manner. 

Vermeer accomplished this painting in a period of 9-10 months. This fact justifies the level of effort that went into creation of this painting. 

With figurative supremacy and a subtle color scheme, Girl with a pearl earring painting is also known as the Mona Lisa of the North. 

Significance in the Dutch Golden Age 

Art is a timeless form of expression. Girl with a pearl earring painting testifies to this fact as a true example. 

Vermeer painted this masterpiece in 1665. Back then, it did not receive any recognition. 

It was undermined by the art critics and general public of the Dutch Golden Age. 

However, true art pieces get their due sooner or later!

Girl with a pearl earring painting received its due credit when it was discovered by a bunch of art historians in the 19th century. 

Once a neglected artwork, it  became an emblem for the Dutch Golden Age for the modern audiences. 

Theories Surrounding the Painting

Currently sitting in the Mauritshuis museum, The Hague, this painting showcases Vermeer expertise in portraying tender human emotions.

The central subject in this painting has been painted with the emotional histogram of a woman taken as an inspiration. 

Although her identity is not made clear by Vermeer. Neither her resemblance could be traced by anyone.

So, a lot of speculations and theories have been made regarding her identity:

  • Some say she’s a housemaid
  • Some say she’s a beautiful young girl that modeled for Vermeer’s Girl with a pearl earring painting

But, neither of the theories came out to be true!

Girl with a pearl earring painter, Vermeer painted an imaginary woman using his creative liberties to an ultimate extent. 

The way he molded his imagination into a very fine and accurate creation is really convincing and commendable. 

Symbolism in Girl with a Pearl Earring 

Symbolism in Gil with a pearl earring.
Image Source: Wikipedia

Being one of the most prominent Baroque paintings, Girl with a pearl earring radiates a surplus amount of symbolism. 

Wealth: It’s the major insignia that is portrayed in this painting. Elements like the azure turban and the pearl earring depict the richness of the attire that girl is carrying. 

Pitch Black Background:  A completely vacuum-like space adds a highlight to the central character. It also represents the focus of the human mind when an intriguing subject is visible to the eye. 

Pitch black background of the Gil with a pearl earring.
Image Source: Wikipedia

Shades of light color on the dress: It shows the presence of light in the dark room which makes the subject visible. These shades symbolize the dynamic nature of the human subconscious. How it keeps on fluctuating with time. 

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Composition and Analysis 

Facial perspective of Gil with a pearl earring.
Image Source: Wikipedia

Johannes Vermeer’s paintings are known for their immaculate detailing and fine outline of the subjects.

It seems like he always gave a royal treatment to his paint brush.  We can witness by doing Girl with a pearl earring analysis.

The way he performed smooth and dusty brush strokes on the canvas speaks about the high quality of his paintings. 

Artworks like The Milkmaid and Girl with a pearl earring showcase Vermeer’s prowess in defining the standards of the Dutch Golden Age paintings.

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After getting acquainted with the artist’s expertise, let’s explore the composition of Girl with a pearl earring.

Depth: Unlike Vermeer’s other paintings, Girl with a pearl earring contains a very little amount of depth. It’s very shallow in terms of depth despite being a 3-D artwork. 

Facial Perspective: The face of the Girl with a pearl earring painting is positioned with a geometrical aspect kept in mind. It’s kept at an approximate 30° angle to give a tilted  look to the subject in context with the overall frame. 

Finishing of the face: The brush strokes applied by Vermeer to outline the face of the girl define the sharp structure of her face. It also gives a hint about the young age of the girl. 

Color Scheme

The vibrancy of any artwork depends upon its color scheme. It includes the number of colors, frequency of contrast and the tone of the painting.

Most importantly, color schemes are defining factors for the mood of the painting. 

There are multiple elements in Girl with a pearl earring painting that spawn a new perspective for the viewer

Turban: It has been used in reference to the girl’s background. The azure color with a few tints of white give evidence about the light present in the room. It’s added deliberately to bring the girl in the foreground. 

Pearl Earring: Would you believe me if I say that there isn’t any pearl earring in this painting? Well, Vermeer has just put a clean smudge of silver paint with a tint of white. Since, it’s a motif hence it appears to be an earring. 

Scarf: Johannes Vermeer deserves an applaud for putting a great variety of strokes while painting the scarf of the girl. Some are dark, some are relatively light, overall it’s a great highlight. 

The shadow on the face: A slight shadow towards the left side of the girl’s face is visible. It also justifies Vermeer’s expertise in controlling the elements of the artwork. He almost damped the extra amount of light using his mastery in handling colored pigments. 

It’s Influence on Today’s Art 

Girl with a pearl earring painting turned out to be the turning point in Vermeer’s career. 

It not only fetched him international recognition, but also brought his other artworks in limelight. 

This level of immaculate detailing is still a far-fetched dream for some artist of the current generation. 

Vermeer’s influence can be witnessed in some paintings by Renoir. His style of painting while characterizing the subjects is somewhat inspired from Johannes Vermeer. 

The Book and Movie 

The novel Girl with a pearl earring alongside the movie poster of Gil with a pearl earring.
Image Source: Wikipedia

Initially, some facts about the Girl with a pearl earring painting were hidden and mysterious. 

However, after it became an international sensation, it inspired many different artforms to tell its story. 

In 1999, American-British author Tracey Chevalier wrote her adaptation of Vermeer’s Girl with a pearl earring. 

She wrote with a motive of narrating the Girl with a pearl earring summary from the girl’s perspective. 

A few years later, English filmmaker Peter Webber converted this novel into a movie with the same title. 

This movie portrayed the girl as a housemaid who modeled for Johannes Vermeer’s painting. 

The movie and the book propagated Girl with a pearl earring painting information to a larger number of audience. 

With such a great amount of influence on almost every generation, Girl with a pearl earring is one of the most desired paintings of all time!

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Paintings often end up setting the bar higher for the upcoming generations!

So is the case for Girl with a pearl earring. It certainly increased the standards of baroque paintings of that era. 

Sitting in the Mauritshuis museum, The Hague it still continues to astonish new age artists. 

The creation of artworks like this happens once in a lifetime!

So, indulge yourself into the philosophical aspects of this painting!

Author’s Note

Hello readers, 

Finally you’re here! It means you have read this blog till the end.

I thank you all for reading this blog about Girl with a pearl earring!

We keep on producing such valuable content. Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

See you soon in the next blog! Till then keep reading and exploring.

Peace Out!


1. Where is Girl With a Pearl Earring?

Girl with a pearl earring location is the Mauritshuis museum, The Hague in Netherlands.

2. What type of painting is Johannes Vermeer’s “girl with a pearl earring”?

Vermeer’s famous painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is a tronie of Baroque style of painting.

3. Who painted Girl With a Pearl Earring?

Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer painted Girl with a pearl earring.

4. When was Girl With a Pearl Earring painted?

Girl with a pearl earring painting was created in 1665.

5. Is the girl with the pearl earring a true story?

Girl With A Pearl Earring is speculated to be a true story. But, it’s an imaginary painting crafted by Dutch maestro Johannes Vermeer.

6. How much is Girl With a Pearl Earring worth?

Since it has never been out for auction, quoting the actual price is not possible. However, some reports say that if it was to be sold, it would be valued around 100 million USD.

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