Published in: 1999
Edition read: Paperback
With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer’s extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries – and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier’s second novel of the same title.
Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer’s prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel’s quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant–and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model.
I don’t know much about art, but I am fascinated by history and by the people who created things that live on now, like artists. Things like this painting are really interesting because it’s such a simple painting- it’s a girl wearing a big-assed earring, looking over her shoulder. But it’s something that called to this author so much, she decided to create a novel around it.
The novel is short but well-paced, interesting, and filled with fascinating details of the daily life of a 17th century dutch girl and this elusive painter. I had never heard of Vermeer before this book, but now I’ve seen most of his work as I’ve gone and googled it, thanks to this book. It mentions a lot of his more famous paintings, and they are fascinating to look at, and the detail included in the book such as the yellow mantel or the black and white pattern on the tiled floors. The level of detail makes this story as interesting as it is.
Girl with a pearl earring rating: 7.5/10
Would I re-read it? Yes
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of classic art and artists, historical fiction, or anyone who has seen the movie version of this book.
Author’s website: http://www.tchevalier.com/gwape/