The Rich Symbolism Found In Dutch Master Johann Vermeer’s Masterpiece ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’

Ted-Ed educator James Earle took a fascinating look at Dutch Master Johann Vermeer‘s masterpiece “Girl With a Pearl Earring“, focusing not only on the artist’s technique but the vast amount of rich symbolism that speaks aloud in such a quiet piece of art.

…business innovation spearheaded by the Dutch East India Company transformed the economic landscape in the Netherlands. It created a merchant class and new type of patron. Wishing to be represented in the paintings they financed, these merchants preferred middle class subjects depicted in spaces that looked like their own homes surrounded by familiar objects. …The oriental turban worn by the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” also emphasizes the worldliness of the merchant class and the pearl itself, a symbol of wealth, is actually an exaggeration. …This mirage of wealth is mirrored in the painting itself. In greater context, the pearl appears round and heavy, but a detailed view shows that it’s just a floating smudge of paint.