Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a pearl earring.  Johannes Vermeer, Circa 1665 - 1675

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Johannes Vermeer

Introduction

Painted by the famous Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ is one of Vermeer’s most recognised masterpieces. It is currently housed in The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, a city in the Netherlands. In the past the painting has also been called ‘The Dutch Mona Lisa’ or ‘The Mona Lisa of the North’.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

The focal point of the painting, as the name suggests, is the pearl earring. Many of the women Vermeer painted are associated with pearls, as eleven other pearls of this kind appear in his works. A strength of the painting is its use of light, illuminating the girls face and highlighting the earring. Critics suggest that an earring of this type was unlikely to exist at this time, and it has been speculated that Vermeer painted the earring from imagination. If this is in fact the case, then I think this shows Vermeer’s talent and capacity as an artist.

The turban worn by the girl, whilst at first seems out of place may not have been uncommon in the Netherlands at this time. It has been noted that turbans were a popular fashion accessory as far back as the 15th century, and other aspects of the east are also present in some of Vermeer’s other works.

The background of the painting however, does strike the viewer as slightly different from Vermeer’s other paintings. In most of his other paintings, the backgrounds are busy and full of life. Apart from the main figure in each painting Vermeer often paints furniture, musical instruments, cooking utensils, rugs and carpets, curtains and perhaps even other figures besides the main focus. In ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ however, it is evident that all of the artist’s focus is on the girl and of course, her earring.

Who is she?

The identity of the girl is the most debated about aspect of the painting, and there are many theories on the subject. I will outline the main ones;

  • Vermeer’s eldest daughter, Maria – this theory has come about because scholars believe that Vermeer’s daughter, born in 1654, would have been about the same age of the girl depicted in the painting.
  • The daughter of Vermeer’s principle commissioner – Vermeer’s main commissioner, Pieter Van Ruijven, had a daughter that would also fit the description of the girl in the painting and so is another suggestion as to the girl’s identity.
  • Griet, the servant girl – Although no historical evidence supports the idea that Vermeer’s servant girl posed for the painting, this ides has been developed recently in Tracy Chevalier’s novel and also by the popular film staring Scarlet Johansson in 2003. Perhaps this is a romanticised theory of the identity of the girl in the painting and the story that now is associated with it.

My Creative Writing Story by Anna Holdsworth. Already handed in to Claire Firth

Inspired by the painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ By Johannes Vermeer.

Introduction

I have written this story because I think it emphasizes the amount of unknown aspects of the painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. It is a given that it was painted by Johannes Vermeer, but my story imagines that perhaps it was painted be someone who was free to pour all of his love into the painting, as that is what the painting represents for me. I also wanted to write about something entirely different, as already a well known novel and film exist that are inspired by this painting.

An Alternative take on ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’

Jeremias Visser was a deep thinker. He knew this because his mother had told him one day after finding him sat round the back of the baker’s shop, obscured from view, staring at the plumes of smoke coming from the chimney of a neighbouring house. Jeremias hadn’t understood his mother’s anger and astonishment when she found him there; after all, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Nevertheless she said, it was late, getting on for sunset, and she hadn’t known where he was. He argued that he had only sat down for a minute to watch the smoke form different patterns against the sky; it was very clear that day, and although cold, without knowing it he’d been there for hours.

Ten years on from that day, and his mother still worried about him. She worried about the long hours he worked at the apothecary, and the bruises that seemed to appear out of nowhere, marking his otherwise flawlessly pale skin. She had suggested that she should take a look at them, but Jeremias refused and tugged at the sleeves of his shirt, pulling them further down towards his wrists and hiding the purple blemishes.

Early one cold winter morning, Jeremias set off on the short walk to the apothecary. As he breathed he could feel the sharp, icy air fill his lungs and he concentrated on the ground in front of him, so not to slip on the ice. In some ways he enjoyed being out so early; it was like making the first footprints in freshly laid snow. He arrived at the shop and entered through the back door, and still wearing his outdoor clothing, began his work, sweeping, putting in order jars and bottles, removing some of them from their places to dust the selves, cleaning the weighing scales. It wasn’t a man’s work, his brother had told him, but Jeremias didn’t mind, one day he would become the apothecary himself, and not just the assistant.

An hour later, the apothecary arrived and opened up the shop for business. He was a short, round little man with a bad temper that Jeremias knew only too well. Of course, Jeremias never challenged his master as he wanted to keep his job; he knew the small amount of money he earned was important to his mother. So he endured his master’s occasional fits of temper and did everything in his power to keep him happy. The day went smoothly and for once, his master sent him home early.

Walking home by the canal, eyes fixed on the ground, something caught Jeremias’ eye. Lying on the ground in front of him was a shiny pearl earring. It looked so out of place, clean and beautiful, contrasted against the dark and dull ground, it could not be mistaken. Jeremias paused, bent down, and picked it up very carefully between his thumb and forefinger. He’d never seen anything like it. The pearl was large, bigger than he’d ever seen before, and as he turned it into the light, hundreds of colours came alive on its surface, shimmering and shining. It was entirely mesmerising.

A shout awoke Albert from his dream-like state, and he looked up.

‘Oh! You there! Yes!’

Jeremias focused on the small woman hurrying toward him, her face was red and flustered, her hands stretched out in front of her.

‘You found it, you found my mistress’ pearl, thank you so much!’ gushed the woman, now standing very close to Jeremias, she reached out for the earring.

Jeremias released the pearl from his delicate grip, and let it fall into the woman’s palm. Her fist closed tightly round it.

‘Thank you so much – erm?’

‘Jeremias, Jeremias Visser’ stammered Jeremias.

‘Mr Visser, yes, my mistress will be so pleased, I’ll return it to her straight away. Thanks’ said the woman, without taking breath.

She hurried away, and as Jeremias watched, she caught up with a young girl, no older than Jeremias himself. She was all wrapped up in a blue cloak, and standing not far ahead of him. As the woman gestured toward Jeremias, who was still standing fixed in his spot, the girl lifted her eyes to look at him directly. Even from this distance Jeremias could tell she was beautiful. He took a sharp intake of breath and stared back, not wanting to seem rude, he composed himself and nodded his head slightly to acknowledge her gaze. Her perfect red lips parted, and Jeremias was sure she saw them make a half-smile. And then, all of a sudden, she turned, and was gone.

Jeremias couldn’t move. He stood there, gazing at the empty spot where the woman had been. Eventually he gained control of his own limbs again, and set off at a fast pace towards home. Flinging open the door, he hurried into his room, shouting a rushed greeting to his mother as he flew past. Once there, he pulled out his chalkboard from underneath his pillow, sat down on the floor, and began to draw.

He worked quickly, his strokes flying over the board, the white chalk dust falling onto the floorboards. He wished silently to himself that he had more colours to work with, and more surface on which to draw. In the summer months, some of the local children would catch him in the street and beg him to draw colourful chalk murals on the pavement. Jeremias would be happy to oblige, and draw for them churches and rivers, trees and valleys. But today he wasn’t interested in landscapes; he had only one objective; to capture the beauty of the pearl earring.

Having recovered himself that afternoon in the street, and having first had the instinct to draw, the need pulsating through him that it made his fingertips burn and itch with impatience, he had thought to recreate the image of the girl’s face. However, as soon as Jeremias saw the chalk and the board, he knew there would be no way to do her angelic features justice.

A week went by, and although Jeremias went to work, and filled his day with routine activities, he never left that dream-like state. His mother asked if he was ill, it was just like her to worry thought Jeremias, but she had nothing to worry about; he was incredibly happy, however not contented. He wanted to see her again. His senses were heightened as he walked home from work, every woman’s voice, every girlish giggle, sent his heart racing and his legs weak. In the end, his second encounter with her took place at the least expected time, in the most unlikely of places.

One afternoon, Jeremias was working steadily, writing the labels, removing the old ones, and replacing them. He’d completed nearly a whole shelf, when his master called him into the back of the shop.

‘I want you to clean the storage cupboard, boy. It’ll take the rest of the afternoon I shouldn’t wonder, have you seen the dust in there! You’re next to useless; never do anything unless you’re told. Now get to it, and you’re not going home ‘til it’s done.’

With those last words, the apothecary caught Jeremias roughly by the arm, and steered him into the small space, forcing a rag into his hands, turned and went back into the shop.

Jeremias didn’t protest. He secretly liked the dark of the storage cupboard; he was free from the watchful eye of his master and could see the happenings in the shop through a small hole in the wall. The gap was tiny, but when he fixed his eye upon it, he found he could survey almost the entire room. The bell jangled and two people entered the shop, from his hiding place, Jeremias couldn’t quite see the door, but he guess from their voices it was two women. How strange, he thought, it’s so cold outside, men barely left their houses, let alone women. As they entered the shop, he caught a word or two of their conversation;

‘Mistress, are you sure…’ said one woman, in rough voice, that Jeremias thought he knew, but couldn’t place.

‘Maria, I’m determined, I must thank him myself’ said the other.

Her voice was smooth as silk, feminine and delicate. Jeremias moved his eye as close as he could to the hole, focusing on the two figures. The first woman, who was facing him so he could see her face, spoke again;

‘Well, I suppose we’re here now, this is where the baker’s boy said…’

They were interrupted by the apothecary, rushing to assist them, but Jeremias knew this was the woman who had taken the pearl from him, and that made the other, the girl, her mistress, the one who had occupied his thoughts and dreams for what seemed like eternity. She was here, she had come, and not only by chance, but looking for him. Jeremias couldn’t breathe, his chest was tight, his heart felt as though if it pumped any faster it would surely fail. He listened more carefully to their conversation, as his master said;

‘No, no one here of that name, just myself, I work alone, sorry to disappoint you, I don’t suppose I could help…’ his voice became inaudible, because blood was pounding through Jeremias ears, anger and frustration taking over all other emotions. At that moment, he remembered to breathe, and took a sharp intake of air through gritted teeth.

‘Oh!’ the girl exclaimed, and as Jeremias tensed and clapped a hand to his own mouth, she turned her head quickly to face the direction of the noise she’d heard. Jeremias released his breath and gazed through the hole in the wall. What met his eyes was even better than in his thoughts, in his dreams. The girls face was luminous, looking over her left shoulder, light shining onto the left side of her face and neck. Her eyes were wide, sparkling, full of hope and expectation. The pearl earring shone from its rightful place, complimenting her features. Like that afternoon by the canal, her precious red lips were parted, glistening and perfect. And like that afternoon at the canal, it all ended far too quickly, with a laugh and a goodbye, the bell jangled again and she was gone.

Jeremias knew he had to capture that face, that expression. It was a need rather than a desire, and one he felt he must fulfil. That evening instead of collecting his week’s wages, he asked his master for materials to paint with, ochre, black bone, linseed oil and a canvas. To Jeremias’ surprise, he wasn’t angry, but instead he laughed;

‘Do you know what these cost boy?! One thing at a time! Though god help you when you turn up with these for your mother instead of bread and meat! What kind of ideas you got in your head?’

Jeremias said nothing; he would have to think up an excuse later. Right now, little else mattered but making her image come alive, so he could see her everyday.

Seven months past, and Jeremias became absorbed in his work. Never having studied the art of painting, he made several mistakes, but the image in his head never failed him. It was still as strong as the day he had framed her face through the hole in wall, his memory not once faltered.

At last, as the cold winter set in once more, Jeremias finished his painting. He felt satisfied with his painting, but as he looked at his creation he realised; he needed something more, he needed her. She was the essence of the painting, the essence of him. In some ways, she was already his, his girl with a pearl earring. Jeremias reached over to the left-hand side of his masterpiece and signed it; ‘J.V’

21 responses to “Girl with a Pearl Earring

  1. roses are red violets are blue vermeers art is charming for me and you
    i love vermeers art and the girl with the pearl earing is my favorite peice his use of pearls is amazing and the colors of his work intrest me

  2. I would estimate thirteen years of age for Maria at the time this painting was done. She may appear more mature in this tronie, but it has been observed that girls, in cultures or situations which place demands, through necessity, on the young for help and duty within strong families are rewarded with a mature response. In the Vermeer family, being the eldest daughter would have made caring for younger siblings a spur to the growing process.
    If this is Maria, it is likely that a father’s pride in his daughter’s coming of age and beauty is a reasonable motive for the painting. Daily, he may have come to see the wife of his youth reflected, almost as de jevu, in the sweetness of the girl.
    Amazed, is the only word to describe my awakening to Vermeer’s intimate disclosure of his natural and easy closeness to her, as seen in the trust of the girl’s expression. Amazed, equally, that he made the realization of a MOMENT of time in the experience of his delight in the girl, over a sustained period of time, according to his slow and methodical style of painting. It is only a MOMENT, but that is LIFE. It is not a posed patron in a portrait, It is a lovely girl in a waking moment of love’s observation and the burgeoning womanhood. So much so, that it almost seems a sacrilege of the family’s privacy for as long as the paste adheres to fabric.

  3. Regarding Vermeer’s Concentric Circles –
    Formerly, I proved that the Lady with Her Maid with the distorted and enlarged thumb, was the same woman (Catharina, Vermeer’s wife) as the Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. This was done by means of compasses, the constantia point (pivot point) of which was at a point (pointille or highlight) on the girl’s EAR. The labore or scribing point, then, neatly enclosed her head. There is another ear that Vermeer as used, more elaborately, with a similar intent, which can be proved.
    In The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Vermeer has chosen the point of piercing of the girl’s ear as the constantia point for his compasses. There is a very subtle vertical line on both sides of her earlobe which is the wire from which the Pearl descends. The point of insertion is easy to acquire from the wire and the centre of her lobe. To prove Vermeer’s intention, compasses are required or a computer program that can centre circles. Insert the constantia and place the labore piont at the top-most edge of the turban’s yellow knot and scribe a circle which will “edge” or touch the ends of the hanging portion behind her head. I assert that there exist many concentric circles – fifty or more – that may be found by attention to the alignment of the structures of the face, the folds “edges” of the turban, changes of linear direction, colour changes, etc., which reveal a structure and intent on Vermeer’s part in this regard. The point of the ear’s piercing is one of two constantia points for this painting.

  4. Proving Vermeer’s Intention of Concentric Circles –
    The Girl with a Pearl Earring may, by some, be considered the least likely painting to show this proof. It is, for all appearance, a very direct and spontaneous rendering of reality – (just a tronie?); a very simple, in the sense that simple things are uncomplicated; a very real, in the sense that a real thing is read clearly for what it “is” and communicates; and it is just a moment of the girl, who was as complex as life. It strains credulity to believe that a moment of time has been given, literally, months (two? three?)of consideration and concentrated methodology, to bring to reality a frozen enduring warmth; a timeless and trapped moment; a stopped, yet living life. Yet, it is for that reason far more compelling and begs an answer.
    Why would Vermeer and Terborch (et al) complicate their lives by subjecting their works to an apparently arbitrary condition, that others would find ludicrous, and for very good reason? Evolutionists would guffaw at the idea that the most “evolved” artists of any time or place, would purposely limit their production (Oeuvre), financial gain and family income and without a survival strategy. Yet… we humans have claimed that there is higher ground for them who sacrifice to a higher motivation and professed ideal. The literature of the Emblems, and the proddings of the clergy, and the culture, and the bars of societal norms, and the tempting visions between those bars, and even the mix of personalities, all – brought influence and form to new thoughts and modes, as do similar things in every age. The Emblem books introduced the “CIRCLE and SPHERE” as the symbol of PERFECTION to the minds of the meloncholy “Artist” bent on their perfectionisms. At the time and at that century, “Scientist” were giving up their secrets and as close as Vermeer’s neighbour, Lieuwnehoek (microscopy) and contmporaries, like Decarte (golden spiral and geometry – not to mention metaphysical Philosophy and the dividing of “sciences” alchemy [Chemistry] and astrology [Astronomy]) and, of course, the exploring “Geographer” and “Astronomer”. New depths revealed to “Man” may have made God’s demand on these picture-learners for deeper meanings; Maps and Geometry asking for precision and optic Order to greater tolerances. Then again, a system of Secret Circles afforded a new and private language that would deepen to a PERSONAL level of communication (between friends), as even the symbolism, already so much a part of the Church, Dutch thinking, and visual symbols that were spread at large over Europe by emblems books for a century before Vermeer’s birth and a century after, spoke to societies. Finally, it was a challlenge of pride to do as much as they were able; to extend the reach of their craft.
    The choosing of the Girl’s pierced ear seems even logical, especially at the coming of age of a young “Lady” and the piercing with silver or gold, which her age may suggest. A similar tool to his compasses would have done the job. Ears and pinholes are in Vermeer’s past thinking, as with his wife’s and the camera. The circle drawn from the top of the girl’s turban and enveloping, perfectly, it’s lower reaches from her pinhole are good evidence of his method. Consider, also, two others.
    Though many eyes have past over this girl, no words have derided the inclusion of the white glistening in the corners of her mouth. None have questioned their necessity. They DO play a part that at least is of Vermeer’s Logic. Drawing a circle with the constantia point in the earlobe, from each side of her drooling at the LEFT corner of her mouth, will draw lines on each side of her left eye’s pupil’s highlight!
    The pupil’s highlight of her RIGHT eye tell’s a similar story, but not the same. Draw two larger circles from each side of this highlight, which will neatly envelope two sides of the brightest white highlight (pointille) on the blue part of the turban at the edge of the shadow, positionally almost dirctly above the compasses point in her ear. Do you hear Vermeer speaking?

  5. Further Proofs of the Circles
    On October twelfth, I indicated Vermeer’s use of two constantia points in the Girl with the Pearl Earring. The second point is the pin-point highlight of the inner corner of her left eye. Certainly, as many, or more concentric circles can be generated, with as telling efficacy as those described already by the ear piercing and with those few revealed in the Astronomer/self-portrait with its three pivots.
    Coincidentally, I count fifty-two for each of the sets in the Girl!
    The first circle to be described here, will begin the labore point at the yellow knot where it touches the blue turban at its furthest point to the viewer’s left. The pointille highlight next to the shadow, which I related to the light of her right eye previously, is at the point of a ridge of shadow that bifurcates forming the material’s indentation and fold as it conforms to the shape of her head. A line of whiteish paint on the declining ridge makes the impression of the pointille as a shooting star against the blue material. The circle edges this line as it passes and arcs toward two small internal reflections within the pearl (crystaline bobble) and one brilliant point of white light on the pearl’s surface. On passing and touching these points, it advances to perfectly graze the top edge of her pristine white collar and ascends through the dark background to end where it began.
    Next, a circle with this centre underscores, neatly, the darker shadow beneath her nose, and continues up a shadowed cheek and forehead, and into the blue turban to that leaf-shaped patch of light at its very tip! This arc separates light from eye-shadow, at the place under her right brow where the eye suddenly deepens.
    There are too many circles to elucidate here. I will add a few more.
    This constantia point and its circles form a basis for the shapes of the folds in the blue turban and are generated from the girl’s facial features. Her mouth affords some of these. With the labore point at her upper lip’s right corner, which is enveloping the moist highlight situated beneath it, scribe counter-clockwise along the top edge of her lower lip. This will top the “drool” in the left corner of her mouth, to continue around and perfectly edge the underside of a dark blue line delineating the upper ridgeline of the second indentation above the forehead and the leaf shape. Another circle, edging above that ridgeline, scribes below the drool and tops a pink dot on the lower lip. The next circle bottoms this pink dot and continues clockwise along the upper edge of the row of highlights on her lower lip and rises up through its dark path to enter the blue turban at a fold indentation. The bottom of that row of highlights on the lip affords a circle that perfectly slides along the shadow ridge of the next dark blue fold. Do you remember the first circular line that started at the outside edge of the yellow knot of material – how it touched the top of her collar? My final line arcs along the bottom edge of her collar and exits at the point where the second portion of the knot meets the first!

  6. Jan?! Janny (Yanny)?! Come here!
    Johannes’ eyes adjusted from the sunlight to the cool light of the great hall. Catharina saw, in his hand, the familiar medicine papers enfolding his colours from the apothecary.
    Yeah, Cat?… What?
    It’s Lisbet. She’s crying in her room.
    What’s wrong with her?
    …She’s hurt ..I think she’s jealous..You’d better..
    Jealous!.. Jealous of what?
    You and Maria..all the time you spent with her and her picture.
    We’re working. I’m working…
    I know, but, first the clavecin picture and now this one…
    Alright. Alright! I see. I’ll talk to her.
    This was unlike Lisbet, especially where Maria was concerned. They were a pleasant pair and together in secrets and close as friends and bonded as sisters; at least that was true on most days. Partly, their hearts were knit early, when it was found that Lisbet would never grow up in her mind as the others would. Tanneke was there and helping the midwife as Elisabeth had managed to survive the strangling cord that was found around her neck.
    Living with her difficulties and neighbour’s children had been hard and hurtful at times, but her sweet and sunny temperament was Maria’s joy and delight. Maria had her father’s quiet strength and sensitivity that made her a trusted friend and Lisbet’s protector. They were the older of the Vermeer children and were becoming young ladies very quickly, it seemed.
    Johannes saw the beauty of Catharina reflected in Maria especially. He was a loving father and his eldest was beginning to see the source for fun in his pictures that he now shared with the inquisitive girl. She became aware of the wonderful difference of her papa from other folk, and it made her proud. Papa had a tender heart for all his children, but none as deep as for these two girls, who made his days as full as his craft ever could. Only Catharina held a higher place; Mama was first! Everyone else was first in their own way and at times. Now it was time for Elisabeth.
    Lisbet?.. Lisbet.. Plumpit? What’s this I hear? Tears?
    She sobbed openly, now. Holding her; as limp and lost as any child has felt.
    Tell Papa.. What’s the matter, Tulip?
    She squirmed in an agony of words.
    ..You love Maria…more than me!..and I don’t know what to do..to make you love me more…
    ..then a silent scream was in a wide gape and sorrowful cry on her face. He calmed her down a little and she said,
    .. you paint her all the time and you never paint me!
    She goes inside with you and nobody talks to me and my stomach hurts!
    I’m so sorry, Lisbet..Papa loves you.. with all my heart…Will you let Papa make a picture of you? It will be the same as Maria’s only better… do you know why?
    No. said Lisbet, Why?
    Because, it will be filled with my love for you, and you will point to it and say, Look! Papa loves me! Is that alright?
    Yes, Papa!
    Are you still my Plum?
    Yes!
    He tickled her stomach.
    Do plums have pits?
    No! No!
    NO! Are you my little pillow?
    Yes!
    ..and what do I do with pillows?
    You plump it! No! NO! she screamed in laughter with the game that was as old as she remembered.

    The “Study of a Girl” by Vermeer, that is in many ways like the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” needed a reason for being; so I took a lesson from the writers here. She may not be as lovely as her “sister” to us, and there may be a certain strangeness to the shape of her head, but there is love in her smile and Vermeer used all of his powers and the same lengthy technique, which includes the numerous circles and almost the same pivot points, Why would he duplicate a work with another sitter? Love!

  7. The Girl with the Pearl Earring – Third Constantia Point
    Having satisfied, at least myself,that the proportions of the online reproduction of the Girl that I was using to generate concentric circles were width-to-height accurate, with my monitor screen resolution at 1680 x 1050 pixels, I proceeded to work. Using the ear piercing as one of the two known constantia points, I made the first circle to enclose her lobe. Since the image that was used had dark shadows, I lightened it entirely with a Gamma correction, which made it possibble to see the configuration of the back of her neck and blue turban. Aware that Vermeer’s signature was painted a subtle shade lighter than its surroundings in the dark upper left corner, I found that a portion of the signature had become barely visible. The “I” within the “V” part of the “M” could be delineated satisfactorily, especially with the aid of Vermeer’s individual signatures provided on the http://www.essentialvermeer.com website.
    The farthest or outermost circle, using the pierced ear, is scribed from the bottom front of the Girl’s jacket where it meets the edge of the painting. Drawing the compass up the left side, its scratch meets the “M” at the right side of the point of the “V”. I consider this point to be the third and final constantia insertion for this painting.
    Obviously, it is problematic to write descriptions of points of interest that are aligned along each scribed circle; it being tedious and difficult for the reader. The multitude of circles and their points of interest, unless marked and to some degree explained, may just appear as neatly scribed concentric circles, with some of their reason-for-being being scratched away, visually! I, therefore, will describe my scribing for a few lines only.
    The closest circles to centre are likely within the signature itself. Most of the signature is not visible, so I will begin with the turban. There are transverse folds indicated by notches at the edge of the blue turban where it follows the contour of the Girl’s head above the her right eye. The bottom two of the three most visible indents are where the first line slices the turban. The thickness of the wrap of material is shown above where the background darkness meets her forehead. There, a small, thin, light, vertical line descends in the shadow, indicating the turbans edge. The next circle touches the bottom point of this line and, again, slices a larger piece of the turban exiting at the third notch. Another line glances off her forehead where it turns toward the darkness, and immediately touches the tip of a darker blue shadow where the material folds under at the forehead. There is a next circle that enters the forehead at the point that it downturns on the vertical toward the eye. This line ascends over the blue of the cloth to leave at the small dip of an upper fold back to the background. Almost a right angle exists where that vertical turns abruptly into the socket of the eye. At the point of that turn inward a cicle enters and glides along the shadow edge that forms the first part of the eye shadow before an inverse curve completes it in the inner corner of her right eye. Two more circles are on either side of the white highlight on the right cornea. The smaller of the two touches a white highlight that is on a midline of her face and in the centre area of the blue turban. The larger cirle perfectly hits the leftmost point of the yellow knot as it touches the top of the blue material that wraps her crown.
    Many, many more are scribed and beg description, and bear close examination and the weight of proof of Vermeer’s methodology. The shadowed side of the blue turban is indicating with fingers of darkness the change in the direction of form, the edges of which have alignment by these concentric circles to the structures that make up the features of the Girl’s face. Likewise the highlights and shadows of the yellow knot and its hanging ends find there structural placement from the face and clothing of the Girl. The Girl with the pearl Earring’s simple image is probably the most intricately constructed, and intimately realized, and timeless in its gripping immediacy than any in all the history of figurative art.

  8. Confounded, as I became some months ago, by a promising beginning to what appeared to be Vermeer’s compositional arrangement of “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”, utilizing the Golden Section, I concluded that the fit was not there.
    Recent redress of this issue came about due to the discovery that my assumptions regarding the formation of spirals, thought to be the same cofiguration, were only approximate. In other words, the formulae for the Golden Section and the Fibonacci Sequence (see DELAPERA’s Guitar Player commentary) are different, resulting in approximate curves, applied to spirals, but not identical.
    I had attempted to apply the ratio 1:1.618, which is very close to the Golden Section logarithm, failing to satisfy “the Girl”. Armed with new knowledge and a hope, half of whimsy, that the Fibonacci sequence, based on my(Vermeer’s) original anchor points of squares in the Girl’s space, might prevail where gold had failed, it was proved a perfect FIT! Eureka! ..without the gold!
    May it be stated, right here, that I had identified the constantia (pivot points) that hypothesized Vermeer’s use of concentric circles, prior to this revelation of the connection to a Fibonacci sequence in the Girl with the Pearl Earring. Both the proposed circles and the squares of Fibonacci sequential mapping are connected and corroborate each other as elements that Vermeer has used. For instance, two of the constantia points are top left corners of the two largest squares. The other constantia, by means of a circle, confirms the length of a side of the largest square.
    As posited, above, in former posts on the Girl, the constantia are: 1)the piercing of her ear, 2)the bright highlight in the inner corner of her left eye, and 3)the bottom point of the “V” of the “I,V,M” portion of Vermeer’s signature in the top left corner of the painting. The point of the “V” is aligned on a horizontal line to the top-most edge of the Girl’s turban. This is the top line of the square that encloses the Fibonacci squares.
    The ear piercing is a centre point for concentric circles, one of which touches the top of the yellow knot of the turban and swings down to touch both of the scarf portions at their bottom-most edges. The same circle draws through the “notch” that is formed where the brown collar meets the sleeve. This notch is on a horizontal alignment with the bottom-most edge of the longer scarf portion. This line is the bottom line of the large square, which determines the length of the sides of the square. A straight line dropped from the point of the “V” forms the left side of this square. The last vertical can, then, be drawn which touches the edge of a spoon shaped shadow hanging in the far scarf portion.
    Having established the large square, a diagonal can be drawn from the point of the “V” (top left corner of square) on the 45 degree angle to the bottom right corner. This line is drawn through the highlight of the left eye’s corner and touches the bottom edge of the pearl’s bright highlight. The second largest square is formed when another vertical line is dropped from the highlight of the left eye to the bottom and a horizontal line from this highlight to the right side of the large square completes it. Likewise, a third largest square is made by measuring from the top of this second square to the top of the largest and measuring this length from the upper right corner, left, to a point that is two-thirds the distance to a vertical, which is an extension of the second square’s left side, from the eye highlight to the top edge of the largest square. From that two-thirds horizontal complete the third square with another vertical. Unlike the former squares, the last two squares are of equal size and fill the vertical space that remains, between the vertical line arising from the eye highlight and the third largest square to its right.
    This generation of squares completes a Fibonacci Sequence of 1, 1, 2, 3, 5. Therefore, the two equal squares (1,1) add to equal two; plus, the length of the next square equals three, plus the second largest square’s length equals five.
    A Fibonacci Spiral, drawn using these squares, by using compasses to draw quarter circles within each square beginning with the lower of the two equal-sized squares, (constantia in a corner with curve from corner to opposite corner of each square) with ends of the segments touching, completes the spiral at the bottom of the largest square.
    Vermeer proves Vermeer. The exact sized Fibonacci Spiral produced by this method is the top curve of her sleeve’s shoulder!!

  9. I have discovered other Fibonacci spiral segments in addition to the Girl’s shoulder/sleeve spiral. The size of the shoulder spiral is identical to the size of the spiral generated using the squares as laid out in the last post. Most of the other spirals differ in size, but retain the same directional attitude. They have the same right hand evolution and are not rotated. The curve of the yellow top knot, therefore is smaller than the curve of the turban’s blue head wrap, but the direction does not vary. This is also true of the top line of the Girl’s left eye, when the mathematically reduced spiral is applied to a reproduction. Finally, an exception is made by Vermeer by turning the spiral by ninety degrees and sizing it to the right side of the pearl drop. The opposite side of the pearl is just a mirror image of this Fibonacci spiral. These spirals prove that Vermeer, in fact used not only the Fibonacci sequence construct, but proves that he must have used compasses to produce the circle segments of which they are composed. His painting methods were utilizing geometry, to some degree, and even an apparently spontaneous tronie, such as this girl, was the result of much planning and careful execution. Did he use COMPASSES? YES!

  10. The Study of a Young Woman is the other girl with a pearl earring. She is warmly pleased in the presence of the one who peers at her and trusts him who has rendered her presentable in exotic dress. In fact, she is unconcerned about her appearance and conscious only of the other one present. That is why her smile emotes relationship and love. Unlike her sister, who quietly turns to speak, unaware of her beauty, the quiet one sits satisfied, at last, feeling that she is found beautiful. That is why they are Maria and Elisabeth to me, no matter the reality!
    Maria gave up her secret, at least in the mathematical mechanics of her generation by Vermeer. The sleeve of her garment, the curves of her turban, the line of her eyelid and the drop shape of the jewel; all display Vermeer’s shared fascination with Rene Decarte’s exploration of the Fibonacci number sequence. Each of these redraws that same portion of a spiral derived from those numbers. Vermeer’s genius drops one’s jaw, not due to his interest in and the application of the geometry of his era, but in the natural expressions of girls, in moments of time, intimately made manifest to us, without the hint that they were Miss Data!
    It is, also, only natural to assume and expect the young woman to follow the girl’s structural method. Of course, she does, but in a way that is not as straight forward as the Girl. With the Girl, Vermeer was direct in the generation of a single large square, which had anchor points and an indicated anchor for the second square (The corner of her eye) at exactly three-fifths distance along the square’s diagonal. The smallest Fibonacci square’s sequence and its spiral could then be plotted. Then, too, multiple applications were found within the painting of Vermeer’s use of his construct. The proof and justification were seen.
    The Young Woman holds her secret more closely. She, too, relies on her anchors, but seems to require the addition of one or two additional large squares of a size equal to the actual or main square in order to justify it. The bottom right corner of the main square is at the brightest highlight of the folds in the shadows of the girl’s blue shawl. It is predicted that the bottom horizontal is aligned with the notch at the front of her covering, as was true of the Girl. At first, I assumed that the top horizontal line would be at the clearly defined crest of the golden scarf, which seemed to work initially. Finding that a signature had been assigned to the top left corner, as in the Girl, but lacking any horizontal connection to any other element, its placement seemed incongruous and useless. Later, having discovered that anchors were available for two equal squares utilizing the signature for one and the opposite corner’s highlight for another, the justification for the length of the sides for the main square to the top of the girl’s head, with precision, could be established. A third square is also thought to be possible.
    Though having the square to which to apply other squares related to the sequence was a necessary beginning, it was not clear where the next square had been intended. With the Girl, the corner of the eye determined that a limited sequence of numbers was the only possible outcome. With the Young Woman, any number of squares seemed usable. The increase of one extra number of the sequence satisfied the need and provided a spiral that perfectly follows the curve of the lady’s head, from her distinctive forehead around to the golden knot, and following the pronounced curve of the large fold to the front of the shawl and to the notch that determined its square’s bottom line.

  11. If that is a pearl earring it would be one of the larest ever! Vermeer never called this painting by that name so why would anyone think it was anything more than a silver earring?

  12. trying to paint dis piece of work..seems very interesting ..and the girl looks relay relay very pretty,must say. but the pearl doesn’t resemble how pearl looks like today.

  13. Pingback: Anting-anting Mutiara “Keramat” Johannes Vermeer «·

  14. Pingback: #486 Anting-anting Mutiara “Keramat” Johannes Vermeer | KOMPETIBLOG 2012·

    • no, Vermeer the painter died and one of his last wishes were to give Griet the pearl earrings that belong to his wife.

  15. Pingback: Pravah-01 « Know Thyself!·

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