The Girl With a Pearl Earring


The Girl With a Pearl Earring


girl with a pearl earring 



Who was this painter?

Jan Vermeer was born in the Netherlands in the city of Delft, and baptized in 1632. His father was a textile worker and later an art dealer. Jan became interested in art through his early contact with artists.  Raised a protestant, Vermeer married a Catholic girl named Catherina . Together they gave birth to 14 children, 10 of which survived. Vermeer probably never became Catholic, though his painting, The Allegory of Catholic Faith, reflects a belief in the Lord's Supper. 

Vermeer painted View of the Delft . The painting of the city in which he was born is a simplified view of the township. The work Vermeer created highlights its main characteristics of the township with selected buildings being reflected in the water with cloud formations .

The Girl with a Pearl Earring, painted in 1665, is recognized as Vermeer's masterpiece. This masterpiece is sometimes referred to as "The Dutch Mona Lisa". Little is known about this work. The mystery is as beautiful as the painting itself.

Vermeer also enjoyed painting beautiful indoor scenes of everyday people. He worked on his paintings with great care. He used bright colors, and preferred painting with cornflower blue and yellow. He is especially remembered for his masterful painting of light. The Lacemaker is an excellent example of his abilities.

For 200 years Jan Vermeer was  forgotten but he is now recognized as one of the finest painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Activity: Tick the correct answer.

1. What was his nationality?





2. Where was he from?





3. When did he live?





4. How many paintings did he create?

over 100




5. His paintings usually show:

street scenes

one or two people inside a room

horses and dogs

country scenes

6. Vermeer’s father was:

an artist and an innkeeper

an art dealer and a shopkeeper

an art dealer and an innkeeper

a shopkeeper and an artist

7. How many children did Vermeer and his wife have?





8. As well as painting Vermeer also:

sold paint

had an inn

had a farm

sold paintings for other artists

9. How old was Vermeer when he died?





10. Which statement is true?

He made a lot of money from his paintings.

He died in a war.

He had money problems when he died.

He was famous in his lifetime

 Vermeer's Palette


The number of pigments available to the 17th-century Dutch painter were few indeed when compared to those available to the modern artist. While the current catalogue of one of the most respected color producers (Rembrandt) has more than a hundred pigments, less than 20 pigments have been detected in Vermeer's paintings.Of these few pigments only ten seemed to have been used in a more or less systematic way. Vermeer's principal pigments – Translate these colours/pigments and color the square .

  • azurite   
  • bone black 
  • carmine  
  • charcoal black 
  • green earth
  • indigo    
  • lead white 
  • madderlake   
  • natural ultramarine  
  • red ochre    
  • smalt
  • weld 
  • verdigris  
  • vermillion  
  • yellow ochre      

The Girl With a Pearl Earring, Vermeer's Masterpiece


Check the meaning of the following words:







parted lips


 This is the best known and best loved painting by Vermeer, an exotic looking girl with a turban and an oversized pearl at her ear. In the painter’s inventory of his property she was mentioned as “the Turkish-style tronie”. The girl looks at us with parted lips; she is brightly illuminated and set against a dark background. She is painted in an extremely free and expressive style. Tiny dots of paint have been used to add highlights at the eyes and the corners of the mouth. The pearl is made up of only a few brushstrokes: a brightly lit accent at upper left and the soft reflection of the white collar in the jewel’s underside.

Activity: Fill in the Gap with the missing word

Ultramarine blue  -  pearls -   greenish -  vanity -  identity  - signature  -   corner  -   white -  vanity  - cloth – background – yellow

The turban

The turban depicted in the painting is of Turkish origin. It is made of _____________material which highlights the oval shape of the girl’s head. Scholars believe that the material is some kind of reflective _______such as silk or caffa.

The signature

Vermeer was baptized Johannes Vermeer. Some books call him Jan Vermeer but the painter never used that name.The surname is a contraction of Van der Meer which means‘from the sea’.

The ____________of Girl with a Pearl Earring is located in the upper left corner. It is larger than signatures in other paintings by Vermeer. Sometimes Vermeer’s signature is light in tone placed against a dark background. Sometimes Vermeer’s signature is hidden in a _________of the painting. Other times it jumps immediately to the viewer’s eye.

The young girl

The __________of the young girl in the painting is unknown.There are four possible candidates: Maria, Vermeer’stwelve-year-old daughter, Magdalena Van Riujven, the daughter of Vermeer’s principle patron, the girl fromThe Art of Painting and a maid called Griet – although there is no evidence to support this.

The pearl

In the seventeenth-century ________were an extremelyimportant status symbol. They are linked with ________and  _________. The pearl earring in this Vermeer painting is in the shape of a drop or tear.

The background

The dark __________ contributes to the expressive effect of the painting. It was originally _________in colour ,a combination of two pigments: indigo and weld.

The dress

The girl is wearing a _________dress with heavy folds and a ________collar.



Johannes Vermeer

• Painted everyday scenes with hidden meanings

• Lived in Delft

• Married and had eleven children

• Worked very slowly, died young and poor 

Scavenger Hunt Activity: Find the answer to these questions about Vermeer


1.   How did Vermeer first become interested in art? 

2.  What did Vermeer like to paint?

3.  What is the name of the painting he made about his hometown?  

4.  Find the chronological  order of his paintings ".  What was the name of his first painting?

5.  Find the painting "Lady Seated at the Virginals.  What is a "virginal"? 

6.  How many children did Vermeer and his wife have? 

7.  Why do you think it took so long for his paintings to receive the recognition they deserved?