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INTRODUCTION About the Book In mid-career, the renowned 17th-century Baroque artist Johannes Vermeer painted "Girl with a Pearl Earring," which has been called the Dutch Mona Lisa.Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story behind the advent of this famous painting, all the while depicting life in 17th-century Delft, a small Dutch city with a burgeoning art community.The novel centers on Griet, the Protestant daughter of a Delft tile painter who lost his sight in a kiln accident.
Together, Vermeer and Griet conceal the apprenticeship from the family until Vermeer's most prominent patron demands that the lovely maid be the subject of his next commissioned work.
Vermeer must paint Griet an awkward, charged situation for them both.
Initially intending to attend one semester abroad, she studied for a semester and never returned.
After working as a literary editor for several years, Chevalier chose to pursue her own writing career and, in 1994, she graduated with a degree in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.
A Little Background The Baroque period is remembered less by one specific style of art than as a period of time.
Derived from the Portuguese barocco for "irregular pearl," Baroque was comprised of many diversions from biblically based Renaissance painting.Chevalier's account of the artistic process from the grinding of paints to the inclusion and removal of background objects lay at the core of the novel.Her inventive portrayal of this tumultuous time, when Protestantism began to dominate Catholicism and the growing bourgeoisie took the place of the Church as patrons of the arts, draws the reader into a lively, if little known, time and place in history.The moment captured by the painting is captivating sexually charged yet undeniably innocent.This is the subject of Chevalier's novel Girl with a Pearl Earring.A converted Catholic for his wedding day, Vermeer struggled to support a large family.Many of his paintings depict the wives or daughters of his Protestant patrons caught in the middle of common household actions pouring a pitcher of water, writing a letter, or playing an instrument.As the merchant class gained monetary status in the community, so did their desire to be painted, just as royalty was just a few decades earlier.Jan Vermeer (1632-1675), a native of Delft who never left the small city, relied on the bourgeoisie for his living.The painting was part of a visiting exhibit of fifteen paintings from the Dutch Golden Age on loan from the Mauritshuis in Amsterdam. The renovation is now complete and by all accounts a great success. But for over two centuries she was a waif much neglected.When it came up for auction in the nineteenth century, only two persons recognized that the painting was a Vermeer.