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Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665


Diane

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Johannes Vermeer’s 1665 study of a young woman is startlingly real and startlingly modern, almost as if it were a photograph. This gets into the debate over whether or not Vermeer employed a pre-photographic device called a camera obscura to create the image. Leaving that aside, the sitter is unknown, though it’s been speculated that she might have been Vermeer's maid. He portrays her looking over her shoulder, locking her eyes with the viewer as if attempting to establish an intimate connection across the centuries. Technically speaking, Girl isn’t a portrait, but rather an example of the Dutch genre called a tronie—a headshot meant more as still life of facial features than as an attempt to capture a likeness.
 

 

 

 

 

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