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Who Was the Girl With a Pearl Earring?

Updated on June 19, 2013

Girl with the Pearl Earring is like a Mona Lisa, mysterious and begs the viewer to ask questions about the girl. Johannes Vermeer painted the portrait in 1665 and when you see the painting is seems like a color photo-very real, even down to the girl's "wet" looking lips. In a recent showing in Japan, over one million waited to see it.

The questions about the girl are always the same in all languages by the viewers: Who was she? What was she thinking? Was there a relationship between her and Vermeer? The painting seems like an "off the cuff" snapshot from a camera because she seems to be glancing back, as if, her name was called and she turned. Yet, for Vermeer to paint it, she had to remain in the pose for hours. The more you look at this painting, the more you wonder and conjure up questions. Is she startled?

Since its painting, the name of the girl was never known and Vermeer only left behind 36 paintings. But, he did have 11 kids. Was the girl one of his? There is a good chance she was. After the Dutch artist painted this, it seemed to disappear for 200 years until it was being sold at an auction in 1881 and was very dirty. It sold for 30 cents.

The "girl" wears a turban, which is not typical for the Dutch dress then. Vermeer only used it to make it more exotic. She has shaved eyebrows, a style for women at the time. Her mouth appears wet a moist and unique because it is open, suggesting a sensual aspect. Maybe the girl was a servant who he had sex with.The pearl that hangs from her ear is overly large and is made from only three brush strokes, yet, seems so real.


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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 4 years ago from Auburn, WA

      My guess is a servant girl. Not sure why. But I have heard that posing for portraits in those days would have been considered a little 'racy,' so maybe he would not have used a daughter. I'll have to read up on it a little more. You got the conversation going. Good stuff.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Wow, it sold for 30 cents! That is quite interesting. Thanks for sharing the background on this painting.