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MITRA Forum Question Details

Image Picker for Section 0


  • The colours in "Girl with a Pearl Earring"ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-09-27 15:45:45 ... Most recent comment 2017-10-28 16:40:30
    Photo-Documentation / Digital Printing Pigments Technical Art History

    An interesting question for you!

    ​I would like to do a reproduction of one of my favourite paintings, Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'.

    I have found the excellent close up scanned image that the Mauritshuis have in their collection:

    I can see that there is a lot more detail in the darks than I've seen in other images. However I understood that the blue of the turban was made with natural Ultramarine and Lead White, yet the blue in the turban looks a little blue green to me, rather than blue red.

    Other images I've seen have the painting with more of a blue-red cast on the turban and on other parts of the painting:

    I was wondering if any of you knew if the colours in the real painting are more accurately shown in the mauritshuis scan, or in the second link from wikimedia.

    Thank you!

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Hi Richard.

    We will reach out to some conservators that we know from the Mauritshuis and see if we can find out for you. Keep in mind, though, the calibration and color management of your computers screen and printer may have as much or more of an effect that the original digital scan.

    Brian Baade
    2017-09-27 18:32:37
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​That would be great Brian, thank you!

    I have a DELL UltraSharp monitor which has been colour calibrated at the factory so it should be reasonably accurate.

    2017-09-28 03:23:29
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​We are posting this answer on behalf of Mauritshuis paintings conservator Abbie Vandivere: The Mauritshuis image on the website is colour corrected and more colour accurate than the one in the other link. Brian is right that the calibration of your screen can have a significant effect. Also, if you look at the painting at the Mauritshuis, the blue areas (especially the back of her turban) look darker than this image; this also has to do with the lighting of painting for photography vs the gallery. I'm a paintings conservator at the Mauritshuis, and am involved in a research project about 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', where we will carry out a technical examination in front of the public in February-March 2018 (more details coming soon). One aspect we are investigating is whether degradation has occurred in the blues (and other areas), and how it has affected the modelling in the turban.We hope that the information we learn from non-invasive examination methods will help us answer more questions like yours about Vermeer's materials and techniques.In the meantime, I hope you are aware of the chapter about 'The Girl' in 'Vermeer Studies' (1996). There is also an app (available for phone and tablet) called 'Second Canvas: Mauritshuis' where you can zoom into 'The Girl' to an incredible level of detail.Good luck with the reconstruction! I would love to see some photos of your work in progress. Best wishes,
    Abbie Vandivere

    2017-09-28 08:36:12
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Firstly, thank you for posting Abbie's answer. :)

    Abbie, thank you for your detailed reply. That's very useful and thank you also for the references to the Vermeer Studies book and your Second Canvas App.

    Your research project sounds very interesting. Is there any more information I could read about it on your website?

    Hopefully if all goes well I will post the completed image here for you. I work from dark to light in one layer and so it would look a bit strange until it's done!

    2017-09-28 11:11:56
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Genuine ultramarine made from lapis tends to lean a bit more towards green in oils than synthetic ultramarine. This is mostly because it has a much lower tinting strength, so to color of the binding oil (yellow) has more of an effect on the color of the paint.


    2017-10-02 07:49:38
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Ahh, I didn't know that. Thank you Ben!

    2017-10-03 02:47:36
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Hi Abbie,

    I have just finished my copy of The Girl with the Pearl Earring (a bit smaller than the original at around 12" x 14"), and wet in wet - one layer. You said you would like to see a picture and this is the best photo I can get without a professional camera and lighting:


    2017-10-28 16:40:30

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