27 de março de 2011

Johannes Vermeer - Girl With a Pearl Earing

The Girl with the Pearl Earring - 1665
The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis - The Hague - Netherlands

This is one of my Johannes Vermeer's  favourite paintings. It is easy to see why this irresistible image has become one of the painter's best loved work. Here he uses a simple balanced composition, some air of mistery, trademark blue and yellow palette , and delicately pearlized light effects, the so called " virtuoso technique" and subtle rendering of light effects, unique to him and arguably unprecedented. Girl With a Pearl Earing shows Vermeer has being much more than simply a painter of charming small-scale "genre" scenes of everyday life. Vermeer draws the spectator into the painting by making his subject look lingeringly over her shoulder, directly at the viewer. Slighly parted lips add sensuality to the mistery - who is she? Her turban lends exoticism to the enticing mix, but is in fact simply explained. The picture is not a portrait but a study of a woman's head known in Vermeer's day as a tronie. Tronies represented certain emotions or types, with this showing an exotic type. The colors of the paintings are fresh, the brushwork smooth but just lively enough to capture every nuance of light, the unusual composition is powerful but harmonious, and the whole is unified by limpid light effects. The pearl captured in just two main strokes (you may see here in detail) clearly reflects the model's white collar, her eyes sparkle, and tiny dotted highlights play across her turban. Despite of becoming head of the painter's guild in Delft, Vermeer acquired only a modest local reputation in his lifetime, and more widespread recognition had to wait until much later. Vermeer most likely had a patron who bought most of the paintings he produced. In addition to his work as a painter, Vermeer twice served as dean of the painters’ guild and was also active as an art dealer and appraiser of paintings. In the end, despite the extra income from these activities, he could not manage to earn enough. When he died, he left his wife and eleven children with massive debts. His techniques, in particular his mastery of light, have inspired modern artists of all kinds, including Salvador Dali  who was a great Vermeer's admirer, and painted his own version of The Lacemaker and pitted large copies of the original against a rhinoceros in some now-famous surrealist experiments. Dali also immortalized the Dutch Master in one of his famous paintings named The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table dated 1934.

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