The Woman with a Pearl Necklace
When looking to all the paintings of Vermeer, we find that they are moments which we experience in our lives and that what makes his paintings so beautiful and eternal. But what had attracted me in The Women with a Pearl Necklace is that we see in it an action which we do in everyday life, women and men. For some people, the lady is admiring herself, for others she is looking to the beautiful pearl necklace, but for others she is thinking of something else which may or may not have a relation with the pearl necklace. The painting may seem very calm and silent but in a way it talks to the viewer and breath into him many feelings. This painting in particular is putting us in the state in which we come to decide which way to take, which things we like, and what do we want to.patron, Van Ruijven
Description of the Painting:
The woman with the a Pearl Necklace portrays a woman gazing into a mirror while holding two yellow ribbons that are attached to a pearl necklace she wears. She stands behind a table on which there are many different subjects and a chair in the corner of a sunlit room.
Comparing to other Paintings:
In this painting, along with Woman in Blue Reading a Letter and Woman Holding a Balance, Vermeer made a composition in which he showed a single woman focusing on some kind of occupation. In each case, the woman is shown turning inward with her thoughts, and using some minor physical activity to give herself some countenance. In this case, she gazes into a mirror while holding two yellow ribbons attached to a pearl necklace around her neck. The distance between the lonely figure to the right and the mirror on the wall, next to the window to the left, is filled by a heavy table slightly to the fore. This part of the painting is very dark, with nothing more than a Chinese vase and a rug irregularly covering the table to occupy the space.
The falling light in from the left, dispersed by the creamy bare wall, shows the meditative young woman admiring her reflection in the small mirror. The stillness and introspection of the models reflect the search for aloof withdrawal and serenity as taught by Buddhist writings. It is in this sense that we must understand and appreciate Vermeer’s creations during his maturity.
The Woman with a pearl necklace, now in Berlin, is one of the largest of Vermeer’s small, single-figure paintings, having a few centimeters more height than the National Gallery paintings, for example. It is probably the work listed in the 1696 inventory as “a young lady adorning herself, very beautiful”. Yet despite this and its size, it was priced at only 63 guilders, in contrast with the smaller but in many ways similar Woman holding a balance.
Even within the restricted range and constant repetitions of Vermeer’s pictorial topography, these two most narrowly coincide. Only the Woman tuning a Lute, in the Metropolitan, New York, which is on the scale of the Woman with a pearl necklace, might be compared with them. All three show the window butted against the plain rear wall; the leading, where it is visible, is the clear version of the heraldic pattern seen in the other Berlin painting, the Glass of wine. All three have a similar heavy table placed against the window wall, slightly to the fore of the window. Two further similarities are shared by the Woman with a pearl necklace and Woman holding a balance: the carpet covering the table is rucked back to form an irregular range of ridges and valleys, at once exposing the bare table-top and obscuring the objects on it, and beside the window hangs a similar mirror. Oddly, perhaps, the mirror into which the woman with a pearl necklace is looking is smaller than that in the Woman holding a balance. In reproduction the two appear to make a pair not dissimilar to the two in the National Gallery, London. In reality, the difference in size means that they cannot have been intended as pendants in the strict sense. Nevertheless, as they both were, in all probability, bought directly from the artist by his patron, Van Ruijven, it may be that the second piece (whichever that might have been) was painted in the knowledge that the two works would remain in the one collection and be seen in a similar light.
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