I studied art history in New York. And when I was a grad student, I spent a lot of time at The Frick. So I know what kind of a special place it is, and I also know that it has a lot in common with the Mauritshuis. The Mauritshuis is a museum that specializes, like no other, in Dutch paintings of the Golden Age, so I think roughly 1450 to 1750.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring was done at the height of that period in the 1660s. All of the other paintings in the exhibition date from roughly the same period from the 17th century, and they all come from Holland.
We know very little about Johannes Vermeer, actually. We piece together quite a lot of information out of olds, inventories, and legal documents, but that, of course, gives only a partial impression of who he was.
During his life, we don't know where he studied, where he learned his craft from. We know that he lived in Delft. We know that he painted very few paintings. We think he probably had one patron, the man who bought all of his paintings. We know he had a lot of kids. But we don't...really don't have any way of knowing who he was as a person.
The girl is very timeless and very iconic. And because of that, I think people find her extremely recognizable. It's been helped, of course, by Tracy Chevalier's novel, using the girl as a subject, as well as Peter Webber's film.
And we're actually using a lot of social media to promote her. We have been using various platforms—Facebook, Instagram. And we find that she is extremely accessible to a 21st century audience.
We have no way of knowing who the model was, if there was a model. She is not a portrait. She is actually a tronie, so she is an idealized figure. And she is not meant to be linked to this specific personality, although many art historians have tried to give her one.
She's been suggested to be Vermeer's eldest daughter, who would have been actually a little bit too young at that time to really look like her. But I think that's part of her timeless appeal people want to connect with her in some way. And giving her a name, I think, makes them feel she is a little bit more real.
But she's not meant to be real. When we look at her, we wonder, "Who is she? Who is she turning around the face? How does she come across that enormous pearl that is dangling from her ear?" And we don't know, and these are things we can't possibly know.
And I think this is something you see in so many works by Vermeer. Another thing with the girl is the gaze. When you look at that gaze, she entrances us, and she's both a coed and a seductress, and she's also a wide-eyed innocent. So we really don't know how to interpret her and it keeps us looking.
- 「追溯回...」- Date From
All of the other paintings in the exhibition date from roughly the same period from the 17th century, and they all come from Holland.
- 「拼湊」- Piece Together
We piece together quite a lot of information out of olds, inventories, and legal documents...