Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665 – 1667) Oil on canvas, 18″ x 15″ (approx.) Artist- Johannes Vermeer.
Isn’t this beautiful? I can look at this image for hours; lost in the girl’s gaze, admiring the beauty of the brush strokes, the shadow and light, the rich blue, the folds of the head cloth, the highlighted pearl earring…
I first came across this image when I had just turned 13 years old, on the back cover of an issue of Reader’s Digest (I don’t know how it is today but in the mid to late nineties, the Indian editions of the magazine always had painting images on their back covers). I was home for my school holidays (from boarding school) and in the afternoons when the household was in siesta mode, I used to go up to this small room on our terrace to search for all the old issues of the magazine, piled up against a wall on a large trunk. The sole purpose of this rummaging was to copy these paintings on small oil/watercolour sheets! One day, I came across the Girl with a Pearl Earring and I remember that even then with the magazine in my hands, I stared at this painting for a long-long time.
There is something so mesmerizing about this work. The innocence, grace and beauty of the girl is captured so well by Vermeer. It’s hard to describe but I feel the painting is so simple and uncomplicated- when you look at it; time stands still, the noises and humdrum of life fade away and you get lost in the painting. Every time I look at this image, it evokes the same undiluted feeling… truly one of Vermeer’s best works.
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing…”
John Keats, Endymion, 1818.