Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vermeer Style and The Girl

"The girl", as she is called, is Johannes Vermeer's masterpiece, Girl With a Pearl Earring, and she's here  in San Francisco. Called the Dutch Mona Lisa, she is part of an exhibit of Dutch paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis showing at the de Young Museum  January 26 through June 2, 2013. I just love the face of this girl.

Personally, I'm thrilled I'm going to get to see her up close! I'm a huge fan of Vermeer and Dutch paintings. Really, I now head first to the Dutch art at museums to check out the Vermeers and the Rembrandt's. Honestly though I'll admit what got me interested in Dutch paintings was the 2003 film, Girl With a Pearl Earring starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. If you haven't experienced this film, you are missing out. This film draws you in with the haunting music, the gorgeous cinematography, believable story and stellar cast. Adapted from Tracey Chevalier's novel of the same name, the film imagines story of of the pearl girl, Griet, a young maid who comes to work in Vermeer's home and becomes his assistant and muse. You are transported to Delft, Holland in the 1600's and I don't remember another movie experience that so captured a time and place. 

Scarlett in the film.

Oh my, the ear piercing scene...It's pretty hot. A clip from another great scene below.

The Milkmaid  c.1658

Vermeer set almost all of his works in his home in Delft. He was especially fond of blue and yellow.

The Art of Painting  c.1665-1667
This one is a self-portrait.

Vermeer has been accused of using an early camera obscura beause of the highlights and perspective he achieved. However, when he died at age 43, ther was no evidence of one in his possession. He died in obscurity and in debt with 11 children. Only later in the 19th century were his paintings rediscovered and his place alongside the masters of the Golden Age of Dutch painting was established.

Besides the amazing natural luminosity in his paintings, he was unique in his use of dazzling pigments. He used lapis lazuli and ultramarine. He understood that color was never one dimensional and reflected the environment that surrounded it. Notice the red skirt below looks real because he painted ultramarine  under the red, giving it a purplish sheen, which would have appeared due to the reflection of the grey walls.

Girl with a Wineglass  c1659-1660

The pearly light of his works makes everyday tasks look more romanticized. No other artist had achieved such an effect at this time.

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter c.1658

Vermeer was able to paint life with all it's variations and tones.

Mistress and Maid  c.1666-1667
The effects he achieved were remarkable for his time.

View of Delft  c.1660-1661

Young Woman With a Water Pitcher. c.1665.

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window  c.1657-1659

The Glass of Wine c.1658-1660

This DVD, narrated by Meryl Streep, takes you on a journey to uncover what makes Vermeer's work so special with x-ray, infrared and other technologies that go beneath the paintings to explore his genius.
Vermeer DVD Available through the DeYoung Museum store.

Girl with a Pearl Necklace c. 1662-1665.

The colors and time of Vermeer are still inspiring. 

2009 was a big year of fashion inspired by Dutch masters...

Christian Dior  Spring Summer 2009 was inspired by Vermeer.

Love the Vermeer yellows and soft blues. the collars and ruffles.

Vermeer's use of tapestries, reds and shapes figured in this collection by John Galliano did for Dior.

And in Vogue..

Vogue 2009. 

And earlier...Marc Jacob's 2007 Vermeer inspired collection for Louis Vuitton...

Others inspired by Vermeer and his colors and light... 

Riccardo Bernardi channeled Vermeer with a hoody and a t-shirt for Schon magazine.

Vogue Living's version of Vermeer's Dutch interior 2007

Edward Blumenfeld for Vogue  c.1945

You can order her on a stamp here at zazzle.


 A French Elle editorial here and below..

This Vermeer inspired photo by Hendrik Kerstens won second prize in the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Competition in London 2009.  Now that's good recycling. :)

Available at Amazon
A fun kid's mystery about chasing a stolen Vermeer.

I hope I'll get a chance to share about my visit to this show soon. And yes, I'll be wearing my pearls!

Have a great week!



  1. Simply stunning images Kim! I love the De Young and must put this exhibit on my must see list. Gorgeous post! xx, Heather

    1. Thanks Heather! I love the de Young too and making a day of it with lunch, etc!

  2. These paintings are gorgeous - it is fantastic you will be able to see them in person! Vermeer definitely has inspired others with his work. I must see that movie! I wonder if it is on Netflix?

    1. LR, I think you can get it on Netflix! It's not that old. They also show it on the IFC chanel quite often if you get that up in Canada..


  3. Thank you for this wonderful post! I read the book and saw the movie as well. I've been fascinated by Vermeer's work ever since. Enjoy the exhibit!

    1. Thanks so much for reading and I'm so glad you enjoyed the post!


  4. Thank you for posting this Kim. I too love the Dutch masters. I was lucky enough to go to Holland a few years back and went to the Rjiksmuseum. My husband and I are not art folks by any means, but we gained an appreciation on that trip. We actually stared at a still life for 20 minutes...it looked so real. We purchased a print of a painting by Hendrick Avercamp (his Winterlandschap) and it is hung in our dining room!

    1. I'll have to check him out! That's pretty neat that you got to go to the Rjiksmuseum. We are planning a trip to Holland this Summer, so I am hoping to get there too!

      Thanks again so much for your note!


  5. Amazing post, your blog is lovely!


    1. Thanks for reading Marta! I'll pop over and check out your blog too!


  6. Hello Kim, you had me at Vermeer! He is one of my absolute favourites. It is quite genius how he can weave a plot and subtext with a single still of an image! Re the camera obscure, most artists did use this method, but it isn't cheating at all. It's the way out eye sees something in a picture that we miss in real life. Have you seen his work in the national gallery here in London? There is an internal camera obscura of a house. It's amazing...

  7. It's been nearly 2 years since you wrote this post, but I just discovered it via Pinterest and an outfit I admired there. I was directed here and found this. Hooray. I really appreciate the work yu put into this post. First I loved the film so much as it felt like looking at a moving painting especially at certain times when the shot was through a doorway. I love Vermeer's work because of the human-ness of his faces. Each person looks real, not idealized. I'm so thankful for those artists of centuries past who painted with such clarity that one actually sees real people, rooms, markets in the times before photography.