Is there anyone who doesn't love this painting? Or is it just old sentimental me? Though I have never seen the movie (time for Netflix!), I devoured Tracey Chevalier's novel of the same name.
A few fun facts about the work. Its not technically a portrait, since the identity of the sitter seems deliberately left vague. Rather it is most likely in the category of a "tronie". Tronies were first made popular by Rembrandt during the 1630's and they were meant to expresss emotional or symbolic content, or a specific character type.
This painting's boldest symbol is, of course, the pearl. The prominence of the pearl can be interpreted in two ways. It can suggest wealth and be seen as a mark of status or prestige. The pearl also symbolized chastity, purity and virginity. Vermeer used pearls often in his works, but the pearl depicted here is the largest and highest quality that he painted.
A 1994 restoration of the painting added two fine nuances. The restoration uncovered that slash of white on the cherry lips of the girl, giving her gaze an added intensity. The restoration also revealed that a tiny flake from the pearl had adhered itself upside down near the bottom of the jewel. When restored to its true position, that little white flake contributes greatly to the full radiance of the pearl.
Pantone colors, left to right: Pantone 4685 c, Pantone 285 u, Pantone 12-0727, Pantone 1375 c, Pantone 17 4021. Last photo by Lynn Byrne.