PDF | Insight Text Guides Girl With a Pearl Earring is designed to help This comprehensive study guide to Tracy Chevalier's novel contains. Girl With a Pearl Earring. View PDF. book | Fiction | UK & Comm → HarperCollins. US → Plume. One of the best-loved paintings in the world is a mystery. Fax: 03 email: [email protected] . Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of the young woman depicted in the.
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GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING A NOVEL BY TRACY CHEVALIER This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incide. Chevalier, Tracy - Girl with a Pearl Earring. Read more · The Girl With the Pearl Earring · Read more Pearl of China: a novel · Read more. Girl With A Pearl Earring. p. 1 / Embed or link this publication. Description. a book based on the creation of the famous painting by Vermeer.
I wanted to reach over and tease it into place. While Catharina was unlocking the studio door on the second morning I asked her if I should clean the windows. Frans, Agnes, and I used to sit along that canal and throw things in—pebbles, sticks, once a broken tile—and imagine what they might touch on the bottom—not fish, but creatures from our imagination, with many eyes, scales, hands and fins. Create a free account Login. He will treat you well. The Metafictional Paradox. I could not say why I had laid out the vegetables as I did.
After all, she had accomplished the task. Mauritshuis, The Hague. The character Griet convinces as a proud model sitting for her master with whom she is deeply involved. The pearl earring, besides balancing the light of the composition, has another prime role in the plot: There were five slices: I had used a knife edge to shape each slice, and placed a carrot disc in the center.
Although the pictorial lexis is evident in the description above, there is no direct reference to a specific painting LOUVEL, , p. The text serves as a frame for the description of the painting. The narrator works with words the way a painter would work with a brush on canvas. The painter always uses the same elements of composition in his work: Through words, the author is able to reproduce these same elements in the ekphrastic descriptions in the novel.
All of the individual descriptions of paintings fit the one-to-one relationship. The one-to-many relationship is seen in descriptions of the same painting by different characters, such as Girl with a Wine Glass, described and commented on by van Ruijven, Tanneke and Pieter, among others. Finally the many-to-many relationship can be found in the boom of transpositions inspired by Vermeer, which took place in the nineties. As time goes by, Griet starts filtering the kind of information she gives her family during her Sunday visits.
In order to be close to the master, Griet learns to manipulate not only what she says, but especially to whom, when and how she uses words. She starts to use the same demanding tone as Catharina, e. The change in her personality leads her to lying. Griet stands up for herself whenever necessary, e. Finally, when she leaves the house after Catharina sees the finished portrait, she is very aware of all the choices she had made so far and all the possibilities that lay ahead of her.
A arte de descrever: Edusp, Girl with a Pearl Earring. New York: Plume Printing, Girl with a Pearl Earring: Painting, Reality, Fiction.
Journal of Popular Culture Ekphrasis Reconsidered: Interart Poetics: Essays on the Interrelations Between the Arts and Media. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, Intermediality and Interarts Studies. Changing Borders, , p. On Representation in Concrete and Semiotic Poetry. The Pictured Word. Amsterdam; Atlanta: Rodopi, , p. The Da Vinci Road. Ekphrasis and Representation. New Literary History, v.
Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox. Wilfrid Laurier UP, The Complete Vermeer Catalogue. KLEE, Paul. Paul Klee Quotes. Brainy Quote. Belo Horizonte: UFMG, , p.
Nuances du pictorial. Seeing Dutch Painting. Unpublished manuscript, Intermediality, Intertextuality, and Remediation: A Literary Perspective on Intermediality. Ouro Preto: UFOP, Carlos Sousa de Almeida. Paisagem, Pintura Holandesa Cosac and Naify, A Lady Writing. Delft, A View of Delft.
The Concert. Isabella Gardner Museum, Boston stolen ; rpt. The Girl with the Wine Glass. Herzog Anton Ulrich- Museum, Brunswick; rpt. The Music Lesson. The Royal Collection, Buckingham Palace; rpt. Janson Behind her the woman had to duck her head because she was so tall, taller than the man following her.
The woman looked as if she had been blown about by the wind, although it was a calm day. Her cap was askew so that tiny blond curls escaped and hung about her forehead like bees which she swatted at impatiently several times. Her collar needed straightening and was not as crisp as it could be. She pushed her gray mantle back from her shoulders, and I saw then that under her dark blue dress a baby was growing.
Her eyes were two light brown buttons, a color I had rarely seen coupled with blond hair. She made a show of watching me hard, but could not fix her attention on me, her eyes darting about the room. I nodded respectfully to the man and woman. Is she strong enough?
The woman cried out. He spoke her name as if he held cinnamon in his mouth. The woman stopped, making an effort to quiet herself. I stepped over and picked up the knife, polishing the blade on my apron before placing it back on the table.
The knife had brushed against the vegetables. I set a piece of carrot back in its place. The man was watching me, his eyes grey like the sea. He had a long, angular face, and his expression was steady, in con-. He had no beard or moustache, and I was glad, for it gave him a clean appearance.
He wore a black cloak over his shoulders, a white shirt, and a fine lace collar. His hat pressed into hair the red of brick washed by rain. I was surprised by the question but knew enough to hide it.
For the soup. There were five slices: I had used a knife edge to shape each slice, and placed a carrot disc in the center. The man tapped his finger on the table. I could not say why I had laid out the vegetables as I did. I simply set them as I felt they should be, but I was too frightened to say so to a gentleman.
Why is that? I looked at my mother, who nodded slightly. I did not want him to think I was idle. From the corner of my eye I saw a movement.
They were simply walking along, and were like Frans and me whenever we walked together—clearly our father had thought of us as he painted it. The boy was a little ahead of the girl but had turned back to say something. His face was mischievous, his hair messy. The girl wore her cap as I wore mine, not as most other girls did, with the ends tied under their chins or behind their necks. I favored a white cap that folded in a wide brim around my face, covering my hair completely and hanging down in points on each side of my face so that from the side my expression was hidden.
I kept the cap stiff by boiling it with potato peelings. It was still early—our neighbors were throwing buckets of water onto their steps and the street in front of their houses, and scrubbing them clean. Agnes would do that now, as well as many of my other tasks.
She would have less time to play in the street and along the canals. Her life was changing too. People nodded at me and watched curiously as I passed. No one asked where I was going or called out kind words. They did not need to—they knew what happened to families when a man lost his trade. It would be something to discuss later—young Griet become a maid, her father brought the family low.
They would not gloat, however. The same thing could easily happen to them. I had walked along that street all my life, but had never been so aware that my back was to my home.
When I reached the end and turned out of sight of my family, though, it became a little easier to walk steadily and look around me. The morning was still cool, the sky a flat grey-white pulled close over Delft like a sheet, the summer sun not yet high enough to burn it away.
The canal I walked along was a mirror of white light tinged with green. As the sun grew brighter the canal would darken to the color of moss. Frans, Agnes, and I used to sit along that canal and throw things in—pebbles, sticks, once a broken tile—and imagine what they might touch on the bottom—not fish, but creatures from our imagination, with many eyes, scales, hands and fins. Frans thought up the most interesting monsters. Agnes was the most frightened.
I always stopped the game, too inclined to see things as they were to be able to think up things that were not. There were a few boats on the canal, moving towards Market Square. One boat was carrying river fish for the stalls at Jeronymous Bridge.
Another sat low on the water, loaded with bricks. The man poling the boat called out a greeting to me. I merely nodded and lowered my head so that the edge of my cap hid my face. Children ran errands for their parents, apprentices for their masters, maids for their households. Horses and carts clattered across the stones. To my right was the Town Hall, with its gilded front and white marble faces gazing down from the keystones above the windows.
To my left was the New Church, where I had been baptized sixteen years before. Its tall, narrow tower made me think of a stone birdcage. Father had taken us up it once. I asked my father then if every Dutch city looked like that, but he did not know. He had never visited any other city, not even The Hague, two hours away on foot. I walked to the center of the square. There the stones had been laid to form an eight-pointed star set inside a circle.
Each point aimed towards a different part of Delft. I thought of it as the very center of the town, and as the center of my life.
Frans and Agnes and I had played in that star since we were old enough to run to the market. In our favorite game, one of us chose a point and one of us named a thing—a stork, a church, a wheelbarrow, a flower—and we ran in that direction looking for that thing. We had explored most of Delft that way. One point, however, we had never followed. The house where I was to work was just ten minutes from home, the time it took a pot of water to boil, but I had never passed by it.
I knew no Catholics. There were not so many in Delft, and none in our street or in the shops we used. It was not that we avoided them, but they kept to themselves.
They were tolerated in Delft, but were expected not to parade their faith openly. They held their services privately, in modest places that did not look like churches from the outside. My father had worked with Catholics and told me they were no different from us. If anything they were less solemn. They liked to eat and drink and sing and game.
He said this almost as if he envied them. I followed that point of the star now, walking across the square more slowly than everyone else, for I was reluctant to leave its familiarity.
I crossed the bridge over the canal and turned left up the Oude Langendijck. On my left the canal ran parallel to the street, separating it from Market Square. At the intersection with the Molenpoort, four girls were sitting on a bench beside an open door of a house. One of the middle girls held a baby in her lap—a large baby, who was probably already crawling and would soon be ready to walk. Five children, I thought. And another expected. The oldest was blowing bubbles through a scallop shell fixed to the end of a hollowed stick, very like one my father had made for us.
The girl with the baby in her lap could not move much, catching few bubbles although she was seated next to the bubble blower. The youngest at the end was the furthest away and the smallest, and had no chance to reach the bubbles. The second youngest was the quickest, darting after the bubbles and clapping her hands around them. She had the brightest hair of the four, red like the dry brick wall behind her.
I watched the girl with the bright hair swat at the bubbles, popping them just before they broke on the damp grey and white tiles set diagonally in rows before the house. She will be a handful, I thought. Four sets of eyes stared at me with the same gaze that left no doubt they were sisters. I could see various features of their parents in them—grey eyes here, light brown eyes there, angular faces, impatient movements.
Never call him Jan. And your name? And this is Aleydis. They were both dressed neatly in brown dresses with white aprons and caps. Never call her Maria. Maria Thins. This is her house. Lisbeth joggled him up and down on her knee. I looked up at the house. It was certainly grander than ours, but not as grand as I had feared. It had two stories, plus an attic, whereas ours had only the one, with a tiny attic. It was an end house, with the Molenpoort running down one side, so that it was a little wider than the other houses in the street.
It felt less pressed in than many of the houses in Delft, which were packed together in narrow rows of brick along the canals, their chimneys and stepped roofs reflected in the green canal water. The ground-floor windows of this house were very high, and on the first floor there were three windows set close together rather than the two of other houses along the street. From the front of the house the New Church tower was visible just across the canal.
A strange view for a Catholic family, I thought. A church they will never even go inside. The woman standing in the doorway had a broad face, pockmarked from an earlier illness.
Her nose was bulbous and irregular, and her thick lips were pushed together to form a small mouth. Her eyes were light blue, as if she had caught the sky in them. She wore a grey-brown dress with a white chemise, a cap tied tight around her head, and an apron that was not as clean as mine.
She stood blocking the doorway, so that Maertge and Cornelia had to push their way out round her, and looked at me with crossed arms as if waiting for a challenge.
Already she feels threatened by me, I thought. She will bully me if I let her. She moved back into the shadowy interior so that the doorway was clear. I stepped across the threshold. What I always remembered about being in the front hall for the first time were the paintings. I stopped inside the door, clutching my bundle, and stared. I had seen paintings before, but never so many in one room. I counted eleven. The largest painting was of two men, almost naked, wrestling each other.
I did not recognize it as a story from the Bible, and wondered if it was a Catholic subject. Other paintings were of more familiar things—piles of fruit, landscapes, ships on the sea, portraits. They seemed to be by several painters. None was what I had expected of him. Later I discovered they were all by other painters—he rarely kept his own finished paintings in the house.
He was an art dealer as well as an artist, and paintings hung in almost every room, even where I slept. There were more than fifty in all, though the number varied over time as he traded and sold them. I followed as she turned abruptly into a room on the left.
On the wall directly opposite hung a painting that was larger than me. I tried not to stare but I was amazed by its size and subject. But we did not have such pictures in our houses, or our churches, or anywhere. Now I would see this painting every day. I was always to think of that room as the Crucifixion room.
I was never comfortable in it. The painting surprised me so much that I did not notice the woman in the corner until she spoke. Her teeth gripping the stem had gone brown, and her fingers were stained with ink. The rest of her was spotless—her black dress, lace collar, stiff white cap.
Though her lined face was stern her light brown eyes seemed amused. She was the kind of old woman who looked as if she would outlive everyone. She had the manner of someone used to looking after those less able than she—of looking after Catharina. I understood now why I had been brought to her rather than her daughter. Though she seemed to look at me casually, her gaze was watchful. When she narrowed her eyes I realized she knew everything I was thinking.
I turned my head so that my cap hid my face. Maria Thins puffed on her pipe and chuckled. You keep your thoughts to yourself here.
Tanneke here will show you round and explain your duties. I heard her chuckling again. Tanneke took me first to the back of the house, where there were cooking and washing kitchens and two storage rooms. The washing kitchen led out to a tiny courtyard full of drying white laundry.
I said nothing, though it looked as if the laundry had not yet been bleached properly by the midday sun. She led me back inside and pointed to a hole in the floor of one of the storage rooms, a ladder leading down into it. My things thudded onto the dirt floor.
I felt like an apple tree losing its fruit. I followed Tanneke back along the hallway, which all the rooms opened off— many more rooms than in our house. There was other furniture in the room—a large cupboard inlaid with ebony, a whitewood table pushed up to the windows with several Spanish leather chairs arranged around it.
But again it was the paintings that struck me. More hung in this room than anywhere else. I counted to nineteen silently. Most were portraits—they appeared to be members of both families. There was also a painting of the Virgin Mary, and one of the three kings worshipping the Christ Child. I gazed at both uneasily. I climbed as quietly as I could.
At the top I looked around and saw the closed door. Behind it was a silence that I knew was him. I stood, my eyes fixed on the door, not daring to move in case it opened and he came out. Only I go in there to clean.
I would struggle to catch up. The cooking and cleaning and washing for the house?
That will be another of your duties. Including me, there were ten of us now in the house, one a baby who would dirty more clothes than the rest. But I was new and I was young—it was to be expected I would have the hardest tasks.
The laundry needed to soak for a day before I could wash it. In the storage room that led down to the cellar I found two pewter waterpots and a copper kettle. I took the pots with me and walked up the long hallway to the front door. The girls were sitting on the bench. Now Lisbeth had the bubble blower while Maertge fed baby Johannes bread softened with milk.
Cornelia and Aleydis were chasing bubbles. When I appeared they all stopped what they were doing and looked at me expectantly. There were long scratches up and down her arm—she must have been bothering the house cat. When no one followed her she came back out, her face cross. Her eyes were like two shiny grey coins. We crossed the street, Cornelia and Lisbeth following. Aleydis led me to stairs that descended to the water. As we peeked over I tightened my grip on her hand, as I had done years before with Frans and Agnes whenever we stood next to water.
Aleydis obediently took a step back. But Cornelia followed close behind me as I carried the pots down the steps. If not, go back up to your sisters. If she had sulked or shouted, I would know I had mastered her. Instead she laughed. I reached over and slapped her. Her face turned red, but she did not cry. She ran back up the steps. Aleydis and Lisbeth peered down at me solemnly. I had a feeling then. This is how it will be with her mother, I thought, except that I will not be able to slap her.
I filled the pots and carried them to the top of the steps. Cornelia had disappeared. Maertge was still sitting with Johannes. I took one of the pots inside and back to the cooking kitchen, where I built up the fire, filled the copper kettle, and put it on to heat.
When I came back Cornelia was outside again, her face still flushed. The girls were playing with tops on the grey and white tiles. None of them looked up at me. The pot I had left was missing. I looked into the canal and saw it floating, upside down, just out of reach of the stairs.
I looked around for a stick to fish it out with but could find none. I filled the other pot again and carried it inside, turning my head so that the girls could not see my face.
I set the pot next to the kettle on the fire. Then I went outside again, this time with a broom. Cornelia was throwing stones at the pot, probably hoping to sink it. She dropped the stones she held. I recognized the man poling from earlier that day—he had delivered his load of bricks and the boat was riding much higher. He grinned when he saw me. I blushed. I swallowed. I ran down the steps and took it from him. No kiss? I jerked my arm away and wrestled the pot from him.
I was never good at that sort of talk. He laughed. As I climbed the steps back to the street I thought I saw a movement in the middle window on the first floor, the room where he was.
I stared but could see nothing except the reflected sky. Catharina returned while I was taking down laundry in the courtyard. I first heard her keys jangling in the hallway. They hung in a great bunch just below her waist, bouncing against her hip. Although they looked uncomfortable to me, she wore them with great pride. I then heard her in the cooking kitchen, giving orders to Tanneke and the boy who had carried things from the shops for her. She spoke harshly to both.
I continued to pull down and fold bedsheets, napkins, pillowcases, tablecloths, shirts, chemises, aprons, handkerchiefs, collars, caps. And they had not been shaken first, so there were creases everywhere.
I would be ironing much of the day to make them presentable. Catharina appeared at the door, looking hot and tired, though the sun was not yet at its highest.
Her chemise puffed out messily from the top of her blue dress, and the green housecoat she wore over it was already crumpled. Her blond hair was frizzier than ever, especially as she wore no cap to smooth it. The curls fought against the combs that held them in a bun.
She looked as if she needed to sit quietly for a moment by the canal, where the sight of the water might calm and cool her. I was not sure how I should be with her—I had never been a maid, nor had we ever had one in our house. There were no servants on our street. No one could afford one. I placed the laundry I was folding in a basket, then nodded at her. I would have to take more care with her. Tanneke had probably been trained by Maria Thins and still followed her orders, whatever Catharina said to her.
I would have to help her without seeming to. Catharina brightened. She will take you when you finish with the washing here. After that you will go every day yourself. Early—first thing in the morning. After I brought in the laundry I found the iron, cleaned it, and set it in the fire to heat. I had just begun ironing when Tanneke came and handed me a shopping pail.
Out in front Catharina sat on the bench, with Lisbeth on a stool by her feet and Johannes asleep in a cradle. Next to her Cornelia and Aleydis were sewing. You show her, Cornelia. Maertge ran over from the canal.
May I go too, Mama? Tanneke was still wary of me, but Maertge was merry and quick and that made it easier for us to be friendly. I asked Tanneke how long she had worked for Maria Thins. I started when I was no older than you. How old are you, then? Her work had worn her so that she looked older than her twenty-eight years.
Inside were thirty-two stalls—there had been thirty-two butchers in Delft for generations. Sawdust on the floor soaked up blood and clung to shoes and hems of dresses. There was a tang of blood in the air that always made me shiver, though at one time I had gone there every week and ought to have grown used to the smell.
Still, I was pleased to be in a familiar place. I smiled at him, relieved to see a face I knew. It was the first time I had smiled all day. It was strange to meet so many new people and see so many new things in one morning, and to do so apart from all the familiar things that made up my life.
Before, if I met someone new I was always surrounded by family and neighbors. If I went to a new place I was with Frans or my mother or father and felt no threat. The new was woven in with the old, like the darning in a sock. Frans told me not long after he began his apprenticeship that he had almost run away, not from the hard work, but because he could not face the strangeness day after day.
What kept him there was knowing that our father had spent all his savings on the apprentice fee, and would have sent him right back if he had come home. Besides, he would find much more strangeness out in the world if he went elsewhere. They had stopped at a stall farther along. The butcher there was a handsome man, with graying blond curls and bright blue eyes. Our butcher always wore a clean apron when he was selling, changing it whenever he got blood on it.
Pieter put the chops and tongue into the pail I carried, winked at me and turned to serve the next customer. We went next to the fish stalls, just beside the Meat Hall. Seagulls hovered above the stalls, waiting for the fishheads and innards the fishmongers threw into the canal. Tanneke introduced me to their fishmonger—also different from ours.
I was to alternate each day between meat and fish. When we left I did not want to go back to the house, to Catharina and the children on the bench. I wanted to walk home. We had not eaten meat in months. They paid no attention to me. I helped Tanneke with dinner, turning the meat on the grill, fetching things for the table in the great hall, cutting the bread. When the meal was ready the girls came in, Maertge joining Tanneke in the cooking kitchen while the others sat down in the great hall.
I had just placed the tongue in the meat barrel in one of the storage rooms—Tanneke had left it out and the cat had almost got to it—when he appeared from outside, standing in the doorway at the end of the long hall, wearing his hat and cloak. I stood still and he paused, the light behind him so that I could not see his face. I did not know if he was looking down the hallway at me. After a moment he disappeared into the great hall.
Tanneke and Maertge served while I looked after the baby in the Crucifixion room. When Tanneke was done she joined me and we ate and drank what the family did—chops, parsnips, bread, and mugs of beer. The bread was rye rather than the cheaper brown bread we had been eating, and the beer was not so watery either. I did not wait on the family at that dinner and so I did not see him. From their tones it was clear they got on well.
After dinner Tanneke and I cleared up, then mopped the floors of the kitchens and storage rooms. The walls of each kitchen were tiled in white, and the fireplace in blue and white Delft tiles painted with birds in one section, ships in another, and soldiers in another.
I studied them carefully, but none had been painted by my father. I spent most of the rest of the day ironing in the washing kitchen, occasionally stopping to build up the fire, fetch wood, or step into the courtyard to escape the heat. The girls played in and out of the house, sometimes coming in to watch me and poke at the fire, another time to tease Tanneke when they found her asleep next door in the cooking kitchen, Johannes crawling around her feet.
They were a little uneasy with me—perhaps they thought I might slap them. Cornelia scowled at me and did not stay long in the room, but Maertge and Lisbeth took the clothes I had ironed and put them away for me in the cupboard in the great hall. Their mother was asleep there.
Once, though, I heard her in the hallway and when I looked up she was standing in the doorway, watching me. After a moment out of the corner of my eye I saw her nod and shuffle off. He had a guest upstairs—I heard two male voices as they climbed up. Later when I heard them coming down I peeked around the door to watch them go out.
The man with him was plump and wore a long white feather in his hat. When it got dark we lit candles, and Tanneke and I had bread and cheese and beer with the children in the Crucifixion room while the others ate tongue in the great hall. I was careful to sit with my back to the Crucifixion scene. I was so exhausted I could hardly think. At home I had worked just as hard but it was never so tiring as in a strange house where everything was new and I was always tense and serious.
At home I had been able to laugh with my mother or Agnes or Frans. Here there was no one to laugh with. I took a candle with me but was too tired to look around beyond finding a bed, pillow and blanket. Leaving the trap door of the cellar open so that cool, fresh air could reach me, I took off my shoes, cap, apron and dress, prayed briefly, and lay down.
I was about to blow out the candle when I noticed the painting hanging at the foot of my bed. I sat up, wide awake now. It was another picture of Christ on the Cross, smaller than the one upstairs but even more disturbing. I Iay back gingerly, unable to take my eyes off it.
I could not imagine sleeping in the room with the painting. I wanted to take it down but did not dare. Finally I blew out the candle—I could not afford to waste candles on my first day in the new house.
I lay back again, my eyes fixed to the place where I knew the painting hung. I slept badly that night, tired as I was. I woke often and looked for the painting. Though I could see nothing on the wall, every detail was fixed in my mind. Finally, when it was beginning to grow light, the painting appeared again and I was sure the Virgin Mary was looking down at me.
When I got up in the morning I tried not to look at the painting, instead studying the contents of the cellar in the dim light that fell through the window in the storage room above me. There was not much to see—several tapestrycovered chairs piled up, a few other broken chairs, a mirror, and two more paintings, both still lifes, leaning against the wall. Would anyone notice if I replaced the Crucifixion with a still life?
Cornelia would. And she would tell her mother. I did not know what Catharina—or any of them—thought of my being Protestant. It was a curious feeling, having to be aware of it myself.
I had never before been outnumbered. I turned my back on the painting and climbed the ladder. She moved slowly, as if she were half asleep, but she made an effort to draw herself up when she saw me. She led me up the stairs, climbing slowly, holding tightly to the rail to pull her bulk up.
At the studio she searched among the keys, then unlocked and pushed open the door. The room was dark, the shutters closed—I could make out only a little from the cracks of light streaming in between them. It smelled like wood and freshcut hay mixed together. Catharina remained on the threshold. I did not dare enter before her. Not the window on the left. Just the middle and far windows. And only the lower part of the middle window. I pulled open the lower window, then opened out the shutters.
I did not look at the painting on the easel, not while Catharina was watching me from the doorway. A table had been pushed up against the window on the right, with a chair set in the corner.