Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutch: Meisje met de parel) is an oil painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer, dated c. 1665. Going by various names over the centuries, it became known by its present title towards the end of the 20th century after the large pearl earring worn by the girl portrayed there. The work has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague since 1902 and has been the subject of various literary treatments. In 2006, the Dutch public selected it as the most beautiful painting in the Netherlands.
The painting is a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a ‘head’ that was not meant to be a portrait. It depicts a European girl wearing an exotic dress, an oriental turban, and an improbably large pearl earring. In 2014, Dutch astrophysicist Vincent Icke [nl] raised doubts about the material of the earring and argued that it looks more like polished tin than pearl on the grounds of the specular reflection, the pear shape and the large size of the earring.
The work is oil on canvas and is 44.5 cm (17.5 in) high and 39 cm (15 in) wide. It is signed “IVMeer” but not dated. It is estimated to have been painted around 1665.
After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994, the subtle colour scheme and the intimacy of the girl’s gaze toward the viewer have been greatly enhanced. During the restoration, it was discovered that the dark background, today somewhat mottled, was originally a deep enamel-like green. This effect was produced by applying a thin transparent layer of paint—a glaze—over the black background seen now. However, the two organic pigments of the green glaze, indigo and weld, have faded.