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.
After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994 the subtle colour scheme and the intimacy of the girl’s gaze on to the spectator has been greatly enhanced.
In 1937, a very similar painting, Smiling Girl, at the time also thought to be by Vermeer, was donated by Andrew W. Mellon to the National gallery of Art in Washington.
In the historical novel, written by tracy Chevalier and called Girl with a pearl Earring Johannes Vermeer becomes intimate with a servant named Griet, whom he hires as an assistant and has sit for him as a painting model while wearing one of his wife’s pearl earrings.