The mysteries of Vermeer’s Girl with a pearl earring
X-rays, tomography, and digital microscopy, The portrait exhibited at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, will be subjected to a battery of examinations to understand its conception in the 17th century better. A first for more than twenty years.
Will the “Mona Lisa of the North” reveal her secrets? Scientists and art historians will meet in The Hague (Netherlands) from February 26 to March 11, hope so. The Mauritshuis, a museum which houses the royal collection of paintings – of which Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is the central jewel – invites them in large numbers to its bedside.
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During this period, he organizes a battery of in situ examinations in front of the public. “The canvas was examined for the last time in 1994, during a conservation treatment,” recalls the institution. Further work of this type is not necessary at this time. On the other hand, significant progress has been made in non-invasive analysis techniques over the past twenty-five years. They could help to learn more about how the artist worked, including what pigments, oils, and other materials he used.”
A glass workshop in the middle of the museum
A specially equipped workshop will be installed in the golden room, reception room, and museum’s main room. Therefore, the Girl with a Pearl Earring will temporarily separate from The View of Delft by Vermeer, which she faces in room 15, from another Veermer (Diane and her nymphs) Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, one of the masters of the Sphinx. from Delft.
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This workshop will be fully glazed so that visitors are not frustrated. Nearby, via a multimedia screen, Abbie Vandivere, Mauritshuis painting restorer and principal researcher, will explain what’s going on inside the studio, with daily updates.
What does the tender gaze of this character composed around 1665 mean? Why this black pearl (and not white) in his ear? Is it a portrait or a fancy figure? Beyond the questions of style and techniques, the basic ones are sure to be trotting in everyone’s mind, those of the simple curious like those of the experts. They are starting with the specialists who will work in the “jar”. Those from the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science, their partners from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Delft University of Technology, and finally the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency.
Other centers involved include the Shell Technology Center in Amsterdam, the University of Maastricht, the University of Antwerp, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and Hirox Europe, a microscopic 3D digital video pioneer. “For two weeks, the Mauritshuis will house one of the most advanced art history research centers in the world,” says Abbie Vandivere.
Two weeks of exams
Among the technologies that the mission will use are X-ray scanning (likely to reveal underlying layers and, therefore, possible repentance), optical coherence tomography, and digital microscopy.
At the end of the project, a high-tech 3D reproduction of the painting will be on display. Lectures will occur at 11 a.m. (in English) and 2 p.m. (in Dutch) on Saturday, March 10, at the end of the two-week event. Exams. However, the team did not give a date for releasing the final results with their complete interpretation.