As we launch our elevated print of Girl with a Pearl Earring, we are very intrigued by the novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, and how a story was created. Not much is actually known about the girl in the painting, or even Vermeer himself – so how did Chevalier come about writing her blockbuster-adapted novel?
Chevalier argues the numerous pieces of art in museums often leaves you feeling exhausted and bored and in order to fully appreciate the art, it is important to be selective. So, instead of racing through a gallery to ‘enjoy’ every piece she pin points just one or two that catch her attention and make her slow down. Then, she tells herself a story about it.
At nineteen years old, Chevalier came across Girl with a Pearl Earring and immediately went to buy a poster of it (which is still hanging in her room to this day!). The colours and the lighting grabbed her attention, but what kept her coming back to it was the look on the girls face, and how she couldn’t tell whether she is happy or sad. After sixteen years of looking at this poster every day Chevalier thought: “I wonder what the painter did to her to make her look like that?” From this very question, her story unfolded.
In case you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, Chevalier tells a story about Vermeer, a busy family household of eleven children, a quiet studio, a servant wearing a pearl earring, and a jealous wife. She creates an amazing story about the girl in the painting, and brings us into the world of Vermeer, surprisingly born mostly from her imagination due to the lack records or facts we know about Vermeer.
Watch Tracy Chevalier's TED Talk
Like most novels, the story behind the story is quite fascinating and in a 2015 TED Talk Tracy Chevalier, author of the novel Girl with a Pearl Earring, talks about how she finds stories within a painting, and how that allows her to engage with art and avoid “gallery fatigue.”