artappreciation Newsletter

Art Appreciation

January 2 2007 Art Appreciation Newsletter

Movie review of "Girl with a Pearl Earring"

This movie is based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier, taking place in Delft, Holland 1665. Starring Scarlett Johannson as the young Protestant girl, Greet, sent to Delft to live with a Catholic family. The household is that of Vermeer the artist, his children, and pregnant wife.

This young girl washes clothes and cleans the rooms. Once when dusting Vermeer's studio, she opened the curtains and brought sunlight (literally and figuratively) into his dark studio and life. Then she suggests cleaning the windows as it would change the light coming in.

Vermeer had wealthy patrons who commissioned paintings. Greet became the sitter for his painting, "Girl with Water Jug." In the movie he uses Camera Obscura to capture the picture. (There is no real proof concerning this, only conjecture).

The times she went to the meat market to buy groceries, she would see the butcher's son who took a fancy to her. But she was instead interested in learning from the artist Vermeer. He taught her how to make paints by grinding pigments and adding linseed oil. She mixes the lapis color which Vermeer was so fond of using. He said he saw the colors lapis and yellow as the colors of the sky.

Greet observes romantic love with Vermeer and his wife, and so kisses the butcher's son. All is not happy in the Vermeer household as his wife is jealous of the young maid and his own daughter makes it look as though Greet has stolen a tortoise comb, and breaks her treasured tile from home.

Greet continues to sit for Vermeer, now as the sitter for "Girl with a Pearl Earring." In order for her to wear Vermeer's wife's pearl earrings, he must pierce her ears. When the painting is completed and presented to the patron, she is groped by him, but instead surrenders to the butcher's son. When Vermeer's wife is at last allowed to see the painting, she throws Greet out of the house.

The pearl earrings are later delivered to the maid, leaving the reader with the question of who the sender might be.

Vermeer is truly the "painter of light" in my estimation. I saw the Vermeer exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington, DC in 1996. It was amazing!
If you have the opportunity to see a Vermeer painting in person, pay special attention to his choice of colors and the light as it comes through the window and envelops the central figure (usually a woman, thought to be his wife or daughters).

This is the movie "Girl with a Pearl Earring" available here from

Buy Posters Here From Here's the latest article from the Art Appreciation site at

Fashion Show - Paris Collection 2006 at MFA Boston
The top ten fashion designers working in Paris today are featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I explain the relevancy of fashion design as it pertains to art.

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Camille Gizzarelli, Art Appreciation Editor

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