art | vermeer | girl with a pearl earring

girl with a pearl earring, the famous johannes vermeer (1632-1675) painting, also known as 'the dutch mona lisa', is making a rare appearance at the de young museum in san francisco from 26 january-2 june 2013.

the exhibition, girl with a pearl earring:  dutch paintings from the mauritshuis, features 35 paintings from mauritshuis, the royal picture gallery in the hague, netherlands.  the dutch museum is currently undergoing a two year renovation.

after san francisco, the exhibition travels to the the high museum of art in atlanta from 22 june-29 september 2013, followed by the frick collection in new york from 22 october 2013-12 january 2014.

1 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | girl with a pearl earring | oil on canvas | 18.75" x 15.75" | c. 1665-1667 | mauritshuis | the hague, netherlands  
photo credit mauritshuis

when the exhibition traveled to tokyo and kobe, japan from june 2012-january 2013, about 1.2 million visitors viewed the painting.

art historians are unable to totally explain its popularity.

'sometimes the questions are more intriguing because they can't be answered.  who was she what was she thinking?  what was her relationship to vermeer?  the mystery is part of its popularity.'
-melissa buron, assistant curator, de young museum

art historians unanimously agree upon the attribution of thirty four paintings to vermeer, who is renowned for his mastery of color and light.

vermeer's color palette differs slightly from the color palette of other 17th century dutch painters.  instead of azurite, which was significantly less expensive, vermeer used natural ultramarine blue paint pigment.

this difference explains the purity, brilliance, and radiance of 'vermeer blue'.

natural ultramarine blue pigment was made from crushed lapis lazuli, a semi precious stone that was imported to the netherlands from afghanistan via venice.  to prepare the paint, the lapis lazuli stone was crushed into powder.  then, the powder was washed to remove the impurities.  next, the pigment was suspended in the vehicle by mulling the powder into the oil.  finally, the natural ultramarine blue oil paint was mixed with some lead white to make it more workable.

2 lapis lazuli stones
photo credit essential vermeer

this difference also explains vermeer's masterful rendering of light.

unlike other dutch painters from the golden age, vermeer mixed natural ultramarine blue pigment into grey oil paint, which usually only used lead white, bone black, or raw umber as coloring agents.  vermeer was able to capture the luminosity of natural daylight by using tones and shades of the ultramarine blue-grey paint to render highlights and shadows.

3 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the milkmaid | oil on canvas | 17.875" x 16.125" | c. 1658-1661 | the rijksmuseum | amsterdam, netherlands
4 vermeer highlighted the bread and the cloth with small dots that capture the luminosity of natural daylight
photo credits rijksmuseum and essential vermeer

the girl with a pearl earring is actually a tronie (face), instead of a portrait.   

tronies are drawings or paintings of the head, face, or bust of an anonymous subject.  they are physiognomies, or studies of the subject's external appearance, including their facial expression, type, or character.  during the 17th century, the term 'turkish' was used to describe exotic or foreign objects or garments.  so, it was not unusual for the subject of a tronie to be painted wearing 'turkish' garments, like the cloak and the turban worn by the girl with a pearl earring.

5 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | girl with a pearl earring | oil on canvas | 18.75" x 15.75" | c. 1665-1667 | mauritshuis | the hague, netherlands  
photo credit mauritshuis

vermeer used broad brush strokes, a limited color palette, and the 'wet-in-wet' painting technique to simplify the folds of the turban.  he mixed the pigments directly on the canvas, painting the highlights in ultramarine blue mixed with lead white, and the shadows in pure ultramarine blue topped with blue glaze.

'...vermeer painted everything with a cool, silvery palette and layered translucent oil glazes, dissolving all material reality with a pearl-like luminosity.'
-art historian robert baldwin

6 detail | turban
photo credit essential vermeer

vermeer only used three brush strokes to paint the teardrop shaped pearl earring.  a dark shadow suggests the shape of the pearl.  an opaque highlight on the front captures the luminosity and the luster.  and, a translucent highlight on the bottom captures the soft inner glow.

the painting was last restored in 1994.  during the restoration, art conservators removed a second opaque highlight from the bottom of the pearl after discovering that it was a flake of paint that adhered to the pearl during an earlier restoration.  the bottom of the pearl softly reflects the girl's white undergarment once again.

7 detail | pearl earring 
photo credit essential vermeer

eleven of the thirty four paintings attributed to vermeer, including the girl with a pearl earring, feature women with pearls.  so, in addition to blue, vermeer paintings are synonymous with pearls.

'...vermeer's beautiful women, ornamented with pearls, took on the familiar, pearl-like beauty of contemporary love lyrics where outer loveliness dissolved into an inner radiance.'
-art historian robert baldwin

8 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a maid asleep | oil on canvas | 34.5" x 30.125" | c. 1656-1657 | metropolitan museum of art | new york NY
9 detail | pearl earrings 
photo credits metropolitan museum of art and essential vermeer 

10 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman holding a balance | oil on canvas | 16.75" x 15" | c. 1662-1665 | national gallery of artwashington DC
11 detail | two strands of pearls
photo credits national gallery of art and national gallery of art

12 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman with a lute | oil on canvas | 20.25" x 18" | c. 1662-1664 | metropolitan museum of art | new york NY
13 detail | pearl earring and necklace
photo credits metropolitan museum of art 

14 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman with a pearl necklace | oil on canvas | 21.625" x 17.75" | c. 1664 | staatliche museen zu berlin | berlin, germany
15 detail | pearl earring and necklace
photo credits essential vermeer and essential vermeer

16 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a lady writing | oil on canvas | 17.75" x 15.75" | c. 1665-1666 | national gallery of art | washington DC
17 detail | pearl earrings
photo credits national gallery of art and essential vermeer

18 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the concert | oil on canvas | 28.5" x 25.5" | c. 1664-1667 | stolen from the isabella garner museum | boston MA
19 detail | pearl earring and necklace
photo credits essential vermeer and essential vermeer 

20 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | study of a young woman | oil on canvas | 17.5" x 15.75" | c. 1665-1667 | metropolitan museum of art | new york NY
21 detail | pearl earring
photo credits metropolitan museum of art

22 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | mistress and maid | oil on canvas | 35.5" x 31" | c. 1666-1667 | the frick collection | new york NY
23 detail | strand of pearls, pearl earring and necklace
photo credits the frick collection and the frick collection

24 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the guitar player | oil on canvas | 20.25" x 18.25" | c. 1670-1672 | kenwood house | hampstead|london, united kingdom
25 detail | pearl necklace
photo credits essential vermeer

26 johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a young woman standing at a virginal | oil on canvas | 20.375" x 17.25" | c. 1670-1673 | national gallery | london, united kingdom
27 detail | pearl necklace
photo credits national gallery and essential vermeer

who is your favorite 'girl with a pearl'?

26 january-2 june 2013
photo credit famsf
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fashion | christian louboutin shoes

i have to admit to being the fortunate owner of a few (okay, pretty many) pairs of christian louboutin shoes.


1 2 christian louboutin|simple pumps 70mm
3 4 christian louboutin|ron ron zeppa 85mm
photo credits christian louboutin

my taste in shoes parallels my taste in furniture...
simple, classic, yet modern designs...
silhouette pieces...

'a shoe is a shape, first and foremost:  if its structure is good, it can be enriched with all manner of details, a house is the same.'
-christian louboutin

5  christian louboutin
photo credit showstudio 
quote marie bariller and guillaume de laubier | fashion designers at home: the private spaces of 21 makers of style

christian louboutin is renovating his house in paris.  as part of the renovation, he is installing pyramid shaped skylights that were inspired by the silhouette of parisian rooftops.

the pyramid skylights that enrich the structure of his house could be compared to the spikes that enhance the shape of his shoes.  a trend setting, yet classic detail...

spikes also enhance the shape of jonathan browning's anjou table.  it seems that shoe shapes and furniture silhouettes are actually quite similar...

6 7 pyramid skylights | christian louboutin renovating his house in paris
8 9 10 jonathan browning|anjou cocktail table | christian louboutin|fifi spikes 120mm      
photo credits todd selby | jonathan browning | christian louboutin       

compare the similarities between the silhouettes of christian louboutin shoes and christian liaigre furniture... 


11 eric schmitt for christian liaigre|openwork side table | carriage house | paris | interior design by tristan auer
12 eric schmitt for christian liaigre|openwork side table
13 14 christian louboutin|cachottiere 100 mm
photo credits roger davies | christian liaigre | christian louboutin

or,  christian louboutin shoes and holly hunt furniture...

15 holly hunt|peso side table
16 17 holly hunt|peso side table | christian louboutin|bana 140 mm
18 19 holly hunt|peso side table | christian louboutin|bana 140 mm
photo credits holly hunt | christian louboutin

between christian louboutin and cappellini...

20 nendo for cappellini|ribbon stools
21 22 23 nendo for cappellini|ribbon stool | christian louboutin|june 100 mm
photo credits cappellini | nendo | christian louboutin

24 india madhavi bishop stools | hyde park townhouse | london | interior design by shh
25 26 india madhavi|bishop stool
27 28 christian louboutin|flo 120 mm

do you think that the similarities are striking?

click here to read the selby's 15 january 2013 interview with christian louboutin, which includes photographs of his house and studio in paris.
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