Johannes Vermeer: The Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665)

(Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands)

Together with 'The Nightwatch' by Rembrandt this is probably the most famous and well known Dutch painting from the 17th century. This is not a portrait but a so-called 'tronie'- 17th century Dutch for 'head'. A tronie was a painting of an exaggerated facial expression or a stock character, sometimes in costume. Typically only the head is shown. The sitter could be a model but could also be fictional. just like still lives, these paintings were also made for the open market. Several persons have been suggested as the model, including the eldest daughter of Vermeer but none of them are certain. The girl herself is dressed in turban with a yellow scarf. Because of the size, her pearl earring is not a real pearl but rather a painted glass earring. The background was deep originally intended to be enamel-like green but this has faded. This painting is from 1665.