In Girl with a Pearl Earring, there are various mentions regarding the paintings by Johannes Vermeer. In the addendum, I posted the paintings with the accompanying quotes from the book.
As you are well aware, the story is centered around “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which was painted in 1665. It is largely considered the “Dutch Mona Lisa” and there is something in the young woman’s eyes that seems alluring. An interesting fact, in that time, items from the Orient were continuing to make their way to Europe, namely the Netherlands. The Dutch at this point traveled far and wide, making connections with other peoples from all over the globe. The headdress that the young woman wears appears to be rather exotic-looking turban, may have been inspired by the fashions that the Dutch brought back to Europe.
“That is not what I mean. The women in his paintings— he traps them in his world. You can get lost there.”
– Van Leeuwenhoek (Chevalier, 196)
Paintings Painted in Girl with a Pearl Earring
“A woman stood in front of a table, turned towards a mirror on the wall so that she was in profile. She wore a mantle of rich yellow satin trimmed with white ermine, and a fashionable five-pointed red ribbon in her hair. A window lit her from the left, falling across her face and tracing the delicate curve of her forehead and nose. She was tying a string of pearls around her neck, holding the ribbons up, her hands suspended in the air. Entranced with herself in the mirror, she did not seem to be aware that anyone was looking at her. Behind her on a bright white wall was an old map, in the dark foreground the table with the letter on it, the powder-brush and the other things I had dusted around” (Chevalier, 37-38).
“The baker’s daughter stands in a bright corner by a window,” I began patiently. “She is facing us, but is looking out the window, down to her right. She is wearing a yellow and black fitted bodice of silk and velvet, a dark blue skirt, and a white cap that hangs down in two points below her chin.”
– Griet (Chevalier, 96)
“While he was gone I watched van Ruijven’s wife closely. It was perhaps rude of me, but I wanted to see what she would do. She did not move. She seemed to settle into the pose more completely. By the time he returned, with a still life of musical instruments, she looked as if she had always been sitting at the table, writing her letter. I had heard he painted her once before the previous necklace painting, playing a lute. She must have learned by now what he wanted from a model. Perhaps she simply was what he wanted” (Chevalier, 137).
“He did not work on the painting of me every day. He had the concert to paint as well, with or without van Ruijven and his women. He painted around them when they were not there, or asked me to take the place of one of the women— the girl sitting at the harpsichord, the woman standing next to it singing from a sheet of paper. I did not wear their clothes. He simply wanted a body there. Sometimes the two women came without van Ruijven, and that was when he worked best. Van Ruijven himself was a difficult model. I could hear him when I was working in the attic. He could not sit still, and wanted to talk and play his lute. My master was patient with him, as he would be with a child, but sometimes I could hear a tone creep into his voice and knew that he would go out that night to the tavern, returning with eyes like glittering spoons” (Chevalier, 201).
Paintings Mentioned in Girl with a Pearl Earring
“When Tanneke straightened, a bonnet in her hand, she said, ‘The master painted me once, you know. Painted me pouring milk. Everyone said it was his best painting'” (Chevalier, 40).
“I could not ask Maria Thins, who would know I had been listening to them. I could not ask Tanneke, who would never repeat gossip to me now. So one day when there were few people at his stall I asked Pieter the son if he had heard about the maid in the red dress. ‘Oh yes, that story went all around the Meat Hall,’ he answered, chuckling. He leaned over and began rearranging the cows’ tongues on display. ‘It was several years ago now. It seems van Ruijven wanted one of his kitchen maids to sit for a painting with him. They dressed her in one of his wife’s gowns, a red one, and van Ruijven made sure there was wine in the painting so he could get her to drink every time they sat together. Sure enough, before the painting was finished she was carrying van Ruijven’s child'” (Chevalier, 134).
Painting Owned by Maria Thins – Mother-in-Law of Vermeer
“There was a landscape on the left, and on the right a picture of three people— a woman playing a lute, wearing a dress that revealed much of her bosom, a gentleman with his arm around her, and an old woman. The man was buying the young woman’s favors, the old woman reaching to take the coin he held out. Maria Thins owned the painting and had told me it was called The Procuress” (Chevalier, 179).
The painting of the man below is considered a self-portrait of Johannes Vermeer in his own painting.