Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1665
One of the most celebrated Dutch masterpieces, Johannes Vermeer‘s (1632-1675) Girl with a Pearl Earring is sometimes called the "Mona Lisa of the North" or, "the Dutch Mona Lisa". As the name suggests, the pearl earring is the focal point of the painting. Vermeer depicts a beautiful, enigmatic young girl in a vibrant blue turban looking over her shoulder in the direction of the viewer. Vermeer‘s decision to paint his young subject wearing a turban was unusual, critics believe that he drew inspiration from art rather than from real life. The focus is on the beautiful, luminous pearl, which hangs freely and motionless, giving in its oval shape the impression of weight and volume. The combination of the dark background and the brilliant use of colour in the girl‘s blue turban and fairly subdued colours used in her face and dress draw the eye to the girl‘s intimate gaze. Vermeer literature alludes to the painting being a "tronie", the 17th century description of a painting which depicts only a head but is not meant to be considered a portrait. The painting inspired both a novel and a movie of the same name, which speculated the girl was a servant girl with whom Vermeer had begun a relationship and painted wearing one of his wife‘s pearl earrings.