Mysteries of History

419px-Johannes_Vermeer_(1632-1675)_-_The_Girl_With_The_Pearl_Earring_(1665)After you’re done shaking your head at my really lame title, you can read the rest of this post about one of my favorite paintings. You may be thinking that this blog is all about books, and that’s where you’re wrong! History is my favorite subject and I’m playing on going to college and majoring in secondary history education. The book I’ve been reading is based off of the mysterious painting by Vermeer called Girl With a Pearl Earring. It was painted in 1665 and the figure depicted is unknown. No one knows if she was related to the artist, or if he even knew her at all. Vermeer’s infamous color scheme of blue and yellow stand out in the painting. The book by Tracy Chevalier is based on this well-known painting, her mind creating a story surrounding the origin of the painting. The mysterious girl is now Griet, a simple Dutch villager who is called upon to be a maid for Vermeer and his family. Vermeer takes a liking to Griet and paints her for a patron that lives in the area. What I love about this book is that it is historical fiction. To create a story out of just one painting takes a special kind of talent. To give curious readers a glimpse into the past is a gift. What I love about this painting is the mystery behind it and the simplicity of the figure. Chevalier’s novel put my curiosity to rest and I am satisfied with the story she has created to put meaning to this painting. Vermeer himself was mystery: he never let anyone into his studio and he only painted thirty or so works. He is well-known for his blue and yellow color scheme that colors the simple figures doing household work in his paintings. He is known to have implemented the technique of camera obscura to create his realistic paintings, with the light always coming from the left, the colors blending to look real. The device is actually a small, dark room that projected an image through a small opening upside-down, showing an image that the artist can clearly see and trace. It was this technique that made Vermeer’s paintings realistic and he himself a master of color. I think more stories based on paintings should be made to give us an idea of the time period and the people that lived then. It would help us understand and appreciate art more as well as history.

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