This is my interpretation of the girl with the pearl earring by dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.
In general, very little is known about Vermeer and his works. This painting is signed "IVMeer" but not dated. It is unclear whether this work was commissioned, and if so, by whom. In any case, it is probably not meant as a conventional portrait.
More recent Vermeer literature points to the image being a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a �head� that was not meant to be a portrait. After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994, the subtle colour scheme and the intimacy of the girl�s gaze toward the viewer have been greatly enhanced. During the restoration, it was discovered that dark background, today somewhat mottled, was initially intended by the painter to be a deep enamel-like green. This effect was produced by applying a thick transparent layer of paint, called a glaze, over the present-day black ground. However, the two organic pigments of the green glaze, indigo and weld, have faded.
On the advice of Victor de Stuers, who for years tried to prevent Vermeer's rare works from being sold to parties abroad, A.A. des Tombe purchased the work at an auction in the Hague in 1881, for only two guilders and thirty cents. At the time, it was in poor condition. Des Tombe had no heirs and donated this and other paintings to the Mauritshuis in 1902.
In 1937, a very similar painting, Smiling Girl, at the time also thought to be by Vermeer, was donated by collector Andrew W. Mellon to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Now widely considered to be a fake, the painting was claimed by Vermeer expert Arthur Wheelock in a 1995 study to be by twentieth-century artist and forger Theo van Wijngaarden, a friend of Han van Meegeren.
April 11th, 2012
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