Welcome to Better With Art!



And so here we go with the inaugural post on Better With Art. This beautiful portrait is by Johannes Vermeer, painted around 1665. Rather than jump into some heady analysis (which I’m not really capable of anyway), I think I’ll introduce a BWA regular brief format with this post. So…

• What, When, Who, Where:

Girl with a Pearl Earring (c1665)
by Johannes Vermeer
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

• What’s Cool About It:

This is such a striking image. I really love it. The young woman’s gaze just grabs you and won’t let go. I love how Vermeer painted her eyes, with a tiny highlight that makes them hold that sheen of liquid, echoed in the highlight of the pearl earring.

• Behind the Scenes:

Vermeer’s wife gave birth to 15 children (4 did not survive). One can imagine things were hectic in the Vermeer household, where Jan did his painting in an upstairs room. He did not produce a large number of paintings, creating perhaps 3 per year. He suffered several periods of financial troubles.

There is a movie about Vermeer and this painting called Girl with a Pearl Earring. Good movie, but I’m not sure how true to fact it is.

• Fun Fact:

Camera Obscura | Image: Wikimedia Commons

It has been suggested that Vermeer used a Camera Obscura for his paintings. Think of it as a large tracing contraption that projects and image onto a surface for viewing or tracing. This certainly seems plausible. The technology was well known then, and Vermeer’s painting do have a remarkably accurate perspective.

But, I figure, why not? Do artist’s use photographs now? Of course. If he used such a device, kudos to him, a man ahead of his time!

There’s a recent documentary, Tim’s Vermeer, about a fellow trying to replicate the process. Haven’t seen it, but it look interesting.



2 Responses to Welcome to Better With Art!

  1. I have seen this one a million times given it is posted all over the place and not just in museums. But for the first time, I truly looked at those eyes and her face, and somehow Joannes (or Jan as you call him) has captured so much more than just another pretty face. I feel like I can see her on the inside, and she is warm, affectionate, sensitive and definitely someone I would want as a babysitter for my kids.

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