Staff Pick – Shannon – Girl With a Pearl Earring

On this morning’s commute into work I heard a story on NPR about two Vermeer paintings that are touring the US right now ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’ and ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’.  ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’ is at the J. Paul Getty Museum until March 31st. ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ will be making stops in San Francisco at the DeYoung Museum, The High Museum in Atlanta and The Frick Collection in New York.

I read the novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier a few years ago. It is the story of a girl named Griet who becomes a maid in Vermeer’s home. She starts by helping with the babies and the housework, then assisting in the studio cleaning brushes, dusting the objects he’s painting, and helping mix the paint. One of Vermeer’s patrons takes an interest in Griet and she is asked to sit for a painting. There is a lot of tension in the studio when Vermeer is painting Griet. Even though she is fully clothed, it is clear that the painting experience is an intimate one and it does not escape local gossip.

I like the idea of imagining a story based on what is going on in a classic painting. This book’s descriptions of the winding canals in the city of Delft and descriptions of Vermeer’s work had me wishing I knew more about the Netherlands and art. I read this book several years ago, but listening to this story on NPR this morning definitely had me thinking to myself, “I liked that book”.

To listen to the story on NPR about ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’:

There is also a story on NPR about ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’:,1104,1105

Title: GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING                                           

Author: CHEVALIER, TRACY                                  Original Date: 2000

A fictional account of how the seventeenth-century artist Vermeer came to paint a portrait of a young woman wearing a pearl earring. When sixteen-year-old Griet, a Protestant, becomes a maid in Vermeer’s  Catholic household, the drudgery of her duties is offset by working in the artist’s studio. Some descriptions of sex. Bestseller.                                                                                 

BR   13360         DB   50258        DX   50258