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"Girl with a pearl earring" by Vermeer, a painting initially underestimated

"Girl with a pearl earring" by Vermeer, a painting initially underestimated

07/09/2020

Today as in the past, when it comes to art there is often confusion about the works and the concept of "quality art" remains one of the most discussed. Although classical canons have been upset by artists like Picasso, the value of many contemporary artists is never recognised, and this often happened in the past as well. It is enough to see the misfortunes (on an artistic level) that often accompanied the Impressionists, the Expressionists or even before, the Naturalists. One example is Jan Vermeer, a 17th century Dutch naturalist who is famous all over the world today, but who has remained largely unknown throughout his life and beyond.

Jan Vermeer, an artist who remained in the shadows until 1800

Although he had an innate talent, Jan Vermeer remained unknown during his lifetime and it was only in the 19th century that the French art critic Thoré-Bürger was able to have the works of the Dutch painter appreciated.

Basically, it took two centuries for the true value of works such as "Girl with a turban" (also known as "Girl with a pearl earring") or "View of Delft" to be recognised. However, it seems that the blame lies not only with the critics, but also with Vermeer, who left the family in debt and with about 30 small paintings at his death. As for the paintings sold while the artist was alive, little or nothing is known and even about the famous painting "Girl with a pearl earring" nothing was known until the end of the 19th century. As a result, it is possible that the artist sold several paintings, but that they were attributed to other artists.

"Girl with a turban", also known as the "Dutch Mona Lisa"

Realism of the subject, high attention to detail, vivid representation of light, perfect reflections in the eyes and other areas of the face and the natural pose of the girl are characteristics that allow the viewer to capture the exceptional beauty of this painting, also known as the "Dutch Mona Lisa".

"Girl with a pearl earring", a painting purchased for two florins

In 1881, when this painting by Vermeer was put up for auction for the first time, the participants clearly had no idea of its value. In fact, the auction was hastily closed and the painting sold for only two florins to Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, a buyer advised by the historian Victor de Stuers, who during his life had always tried to prevent Jan Vermeer's paintings from being bought by foreigners. 

Arnoldus Andries des Tombe had no heirs and on his death in 1902 he decided to leave his collection of paintings to the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague. The painting "Girl with a pearl earring" is still housed in this museum, precisely on the second floor, where another painting by the same painter is also kept: "View of Delft". 

Painted between about 1665 and 1666, the painting "Girl with a turban" is an oil painting on canvas of small dimensions (44.5 x 39 cm) which today is finally much appreciated by the whole world.

Article by: Aurora Caraman