Girl with a pearl earring – our users’ favourite

She is still leading Europeana’s top ten. For months already, Girl with a pearl earring by Johannes Vermeer has been one of the most viewed objects on Europeana. What is it about this painting that fascinates the viewers?

Girl with a pearl earring, painting by Johannes Vermeer

“It must have something to do with the fact that the girl looks over her shoulder, as though hoping to see who is standing behind her. This draws the viewer into the picture, suggesting that he is the one who has made the girl turn her head”, explain the curators at the Mauritshuis, the museum that holds the painting.

“Equally important”, the Mauritshuis curators continue, “are Vermeer’s fresh colours, virtuoso technique and subtle rendering of light effects. The turban is enlivened, for example, with the small highlights that are Vermeer’s trademark. The pearl, too, is very special, consisting of little more than two brushstrokes: a bright accent at its upper left and the soft reflection of the white collar on its underside.”

With Europeana, you can zoom in to see the finest details of the painting, from the famous brushstrokes accentuating the earring to paint cracks.

Or maybe it’s the mystery surrounding the painting that was the source of inspiration for Tracy Chevalier’s novel and a film with Scarlett Johannsen. Very little is known about this work. When exactly was it painted, who commissioned the work, and most importantly who is this girl that has captivated us with her gentle gaze?

Please share with us what you like the most about this painting.

5 thoughts on “Girl with a pearl earring – our users’ favourite

  1. I think “Europeana” is a great idea. Great thanks.
    *remembering*: I was walking in the library to find a book in English to improve my language skills. As soon as I locked on to this picture’s gaze I could not take my eyes off…. It was the very first time I saw this painting. And I instantly knew it must be something very special and unique. The picture was printed on the cover of the novel “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier.

    I have read the book. It was great. It was breathtaking as the painting by Jan Vermeer. The painting and the novel are very quiet…. I like the atmosphere created in Vermeers painting(s). The painting is full of emotions and suspense though it spreads a kind of waves of calmness… it is difficult to describe….lol

  2. The “Girl with a Pearl Earring” does not wear a Pearl Earring: Until 1995 the famous painting by Jan Vermeer was known as “Girl with Turban”. It was only in the Museuum of Mauritshuis that it was decided that Girl with a pearl earring was a better name. In 2014 Vincent Icke came to the conclusion that the earring can not be a pearl: the reflective reflection, pearl shape and size are strange to a common pearl. After being confronted with the fact that the pearl in the painting is not a pearl, the museum did not want to change the name again.

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