PDF | Insight Text Guides Girl With a Pearl Earring is designed to help secondary English students understand and analyse the text. 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. EKPHRASIS IN GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING Miriam de Paiva Vieira [email protected] Art does not reproduce the visible, rather, it makes visible.
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GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING her gray mantle back from her shoulders, and I saw then that under her dark blue dress a baby was growing. It would arrive by. Chevalier, Tracy - Girl with a Pearl Earring. Read more · The Girl With the Pearl Earring · Read more · The Girl With A Secret. Read more · Pearl · 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. Popular Pages.
I slept badly that night, tired as I was. KLEE, Paul. Entranced with herself in the mirror, she did not seem to be aware that anyone was looking at her. I thought I might cry. I started in the corner where the scene of the painting had been set up, where I knew I must not move a thing. I did not know what to do that first Sunday I was not allowed to go home. She will be a handful, I thought.
Though she was annoyed with his attention to me, it was me she frowned at. The man glanced once more at what was to be the soup, then nodded at me and followed the women. When my mother returned I was sitting by the vegetable wheel. I waited for her to speak. She was hunching her shoulders as if against a winter chill, though it was summer and the kitchen was hot.
If you do well, you will be paid eight stuivers a day. You will live with them. They have agreed to that. The pie slices I had made so carefully were ruined. He was sitting at the front of the attic by the window, where the light touched his face. It was the closest he came now to seeing. Father had been a tile painter, his fingers still stained blue from painting cupids, maids, soldiers, ships, children, fish, flowers, animals onto white tiles, glazing them, firing them, selling them.
One day the kiln exploded, taking his eyes and his trade. He was the lucky one—two other men died. I sat next to him and held his hand. I could not think of anything to say that would not sound reproachful.
I would like to have done better for you. He will treat you well. Do you know him? It was a view of Delft, from the Rotterdam and Schiedam Gates. With the sky that took up so much of the painting, and the sunlight on some of the buildings. I remembered it well, remembered thinking that I had stood at the very spot many times and never seen Delft the way the painter had. That was the painter, Vermeer. That was Johannes Vermeer and his wife.
As we gathered my things she explained why I was to work for the Vermeers. Luke, and was when your father had his accident last year? Remember the box your father gave money to every week for years? That money goes to masters in need, as we are now. But it goes only so far, you see, especially now with Frans in his apprenticeship and no money coming in. We have no choice. Then your father heard that your new master was looking for a maid who could clean his studio without moving anything, and he put forward.
She considers telling him that the paper is blank, but chooses to stay quiet. He suggests a book, but concludes that the problem is in her clothes. She suggests that he paint her as a maid but he refuses: I was puzzled — we never sat together.
I shivered, although I was not cold. I gazed at the New Church tower and swallowed. I could feel my jaw tightening and my eyes widening. He asks her to sit still.
She realizes that she is actually being painted by Vermeer. Only a month later did they continue the modeling. The painter and the model negotiate the composition of the portrait: Griet, the fictional model, was highly aware of it the whole time; she knows that what really matters to him is the final result as requested by his patron.
The girl is important only as his muse and not as a woman. While she does not fight her feelings towards the painter, Griet follows the natural course of her life outside of the studio, as evidenced in the excerpt below: He looked at me as if he were not seeing me, but someone else, or something else — as if he were looking at a painting.
He is looking at the light that falls on my face, I thought, not at my face itself. That is the difference. It was almost as if I were not there. Once I felt this I was able to relax a little. As he was not seeing me, I did not see him.
My mind began to wander — over the jugged hare we had eaten for dinner, the lace collar Lisbeth had given me, a story Pieter the son had told me the day before.
After that I thought of nothing. She continues the description: The painting was like none of his others. It was just of me, of my head and shoulders, with no tables or curtains, no windows or powder-brushes to soften and distract. He had painted me with my eyes wide, the light falling across my face but the left side of me in shadow.
I was wearing blue and yellow and brown. The cloth wound round my head made me look not like myself, but like Griet from another town, even from another country altogether. The background was black, making me appear very much alone, although I was clearly looking at someone. I seemed to be waiting for something I did not think would ever happen. He was right — the painting might satisfy van Ruijven, but something was missing from it.
Vermeer includes the earring in the portrait. Griet asks him to place the jewel in her ears. Griet leaves the studio, without even taking a last look at the canvas, and proudly returns the earrings to her mistress. 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: Well, then, go on, girl—go to your other tasks.
It was like looking at a star in the night sky—if I looked at one directly I could barely see it, but if I looked from the corner of my eye it became much brighter. I gathered my broom and bucket and cloth. When I left the room, Maria Thins was still standing in front of the painting. I filled the pots from the canal and set them on the fire, then went to find Tanneke. She was in the room where the girls slept, helping Cornelia to dress while Maertge helped Aleydis and Lisbeth helped herself.
Tanneke was not in good spirits, glancing at me only to ignore me as I tried to speak to her. Finally I stood directly in front of her so that she had to look at me. What would you like today? We always go later in the day. I did not add that the best cuts were to be had early, even if the butcher or fishmonger promised to set aside things for the family. She should know that. Tanneke turned away and opened a chest to search for something.
I watched her broad back for a moment, the greyish brown dress pulled tight across it. She was jealous of me. I had cleaned the studio, where she was not allowed, where no one, it seemed, could go except me and Maria Thins.
Painted me pouring milk. Everyone said it was his best painting. The right words changed her mood in a moment. It was simply up to me to find the words. I turned to go before her mood could sour.
I would use it as a reward for minding me. I was also longing to walk in familiar streets on my own, not to have a constant reminder of my new life chattering at my side. I had not realized that I had been holding myself in tight all the time I was with the family.
What, yesterday you were too grand for the likes of me? And then I see after one day she is already too proud to speak to old friends! My father is ashamed. No one is blaming him. There is no need for you to be ashamed, my dear. Except of course that you are not buying your meat from me. So your buying from Pieter has nothing to do with his handsome son?
Off you go. When you see your mother next tell her to come and see me. I will set aside something for her. He seemed surprised to see me. They did not remark on it. He must have been the son, for though he was taller than his father, he had the same bright blue eyes.
His blond hair was long and thick with curls, framing a face that made me think of apricots.
Only his bloody apron was displeasing to the eye. His eyes came to rest on me like a butterfly on a flower and I could not keep from blushing. I repeated my request for mutton, keeping my eyes on his father.
Pieter rummaged through his meat and pulled out a joint for me, laying it on the counter. Two sets of eyes watched me. I sniffed the meat. Perhaps it needed to be. Father and son stared at me. I held the gaze of the father, trying to ignore the son. At last Pieter turned to his son.
He disappeared, returning with another joint, which I could immediately see was superior. I nodded. I thanked him. As I turned to go I caught the glance that passed between father and son. Even then I knew somehow what it meant, and what it would mean for me. Catharina was sitting on the bench when I got back, feeding Johannes.
I showed her the joint and she nodded. The rest of the day passed much as the first had, and as the days to follow would. Once I had cleaned the studio and gone to the fish stalls or the Meat Hall I began again on the laundry, one day sorting, soaking and working on stains, another day scrubbing, rinsing, boiling and wringing before hanging things to dry and be bleached in the noon sun, another day ironing and mending and folding.
At some point I always stopped to help Tanneke with the midday meal. Afterwards we cleaned up, and then I had a little time free to rest and sew on the bench out front, or back in the courtyard. After that I finished whatever I had been doing in the morning, then helped Tanneke with the late meal. The last thing we did was to mop the floors once more so that they would be fresh and clean for the morning. I slept better then.
While Catharina was unlocking the studio door on the second morning I asked her if I should clean the windows. You see? She would not or could not come into the room to look at the painting. It seemed she never entered the studio. When Tanneke was in the right mood I would have to ask her why. Catharina went downstairs to ask him and called up to me to leave the windows.
When I cleaned the studio I saw nothing to indicate that he had been there at all. Nothing had been moved, the palettes were clean, the painting itself appeared no different.
But I could feel that he had been there. I had seen very little of him the first two days I was in the house on the Oude Langendijck. I heard him sometimes, on the stairs, in the hallway, chuckling with his children, talking softly to Catharina. Hearing his voice made me feel as if I were walking along the edge of a canal and unsure of my steps. I did not know how he would treat me in his own house, whether or not he would pay attention to the vegetables I chopped in his kitchen.
No gentleman had ever taken such an interest in me before. I came face to face with him my third day in the house. Just before dinner I went to find a plate that Lisbeth had left outside and almost ran into him as he carried Aleydis in his arms down the hallway. I stepped back. He and Aleydis regarded me with the same grey eyes. He neither smiled nor did not smile at me. It was hard to meet his eyes. I thought of the woman looking at herself in the painting upstairs, of wearing pearls and yellow satin.
She would have no trouble meeting the gaze of a gentleman. When I managed to lift my eyes to his he was no longer looking at me.
On my way back from the butcher a man and woman walked ahead of me on the Oude Langendijck. At our door he turned to her and bowed, then walked on. There was a long white feather in his hat—he must have been the visitor from a few days earlier.
From the brief glimpse I caught of his profile I saw that he had a moustache, and a plump face to match his body. He smiled as if he were about to pay a flattering but false compliment. The woman turned into the house before I could see her face but I did see the five-pointed red ribbon in her hair. I held back, waiting by the doorway until I heard her go up the stairs. Later I was putting away some clothes in the cupboard in the great hall when she came back down.
I stood up as she entered. She was carrying the yellow mantle in her arms. The ribbon was still in her hair. Family business. I felt as if I were seeing her and yet not seeing her.
It was a strange sensation. She was, as Maria Thins had said, not as beautiful as when the light struck her in the painting.
Yet she was beautiful, if only because I was remembering her so. She gazed at me with a puzzled look on her face, as if she ought to know me since I was staring at her with such familiarity. I managed to lower my eyes. She glanced at the pearls she had laid on top of the mantle.
She did not look at me, but I knew she was thinking that maids were not to be trusted with pearls. After she had gone her face lingered like perfume. On Saturday Catharina and Maria Thins took Tanneke and Maertge with them to the market in the square, where they would buy vegetables to last the week, staples and other things for the house.
It was difficult to keep them from running off to the market. I would have taken them there myself but I did not dare leave the house unattended. Instead we watched the boats go up and down the canal, full on their way to the market with cabbages, pigs, flowers, wood, flour, strawberries, horseshoes. They were empty on the way back, the boatmen counting money or drinking.
I taught the girls games I had played with Agnes and Frans, and they taught me games they had made up. They blew bubbles, played with their dolls, ran with their hoops while I sat on the bench with Johannes in my lap. Cornelia seemed to have forgotten about the slap. She was cheerful and friendly, helpful with Johannes, obedient to me. Her light brown eyes were wide and innocent.
I found myself warming to her sweetness, yet knowing I could not trust her. She could be the most interesting of the girls, but also the most changeable—the best and the worst at the same time. They were sorting through a collection of shells they had brought outside, dividing them into piles of different colors, when he came out of the house.
I squeezed the baby round his middle, feeling his ribs under my hands. He squealed and I buried my nose in his ear to hide my face. I could not see the expression on his face—the tilt of his head and the brim of his hat hid it.
Lisbeth and Aleydis abandoned their shells. He shook his head and then I could see his bemused expression. I bounced the baby, feeling awkward. He looked as if he would say something, but instead he shook off the girls and strode down the Oude Langendijck.
I woke very early on Sunday, for I was excited to go home. I had to wait for Catharina to unlock the front door, but when I heard it swing open I came out to find Maria Thins with the key.
Can you manage without her? You know whose pot to spoon from. Never mind, we can do with a bit of cleverness around here. When I turned into my street I thought how different it felt already after less than a week away. The light seemed brighter and flatter, the canal wider. The plane trees lining the canal stood perfectly still, like sentries waiting for me.
Agnes was sitting on the bench in front of the house. Do you work hard? Are there any girls there? Is the house very grand?
Where do you sleep? Do you eat off fine plates? Although it was not very much, I felt proud to hand over to my mother the few coins in my hand. This was, after all, why I was working. My father came to sit outside with us and hear about my new life. I gave my hands to him to guide him over the front stoop. As he sat down on the bench he rubbed my palms with his thumb. Already you have the scars of hard work. It will get easier soon. Agnes and I will go into the country to pick some.
Otherwise I told them everything. I passed on the message from our butcher to my mother. When I mentioned the new butchers, Pieter the father and son, she raised her eyebrows but said nothing. Afterwards we went to services at our church, where I was surrounded by familiar faces and familiar words. Sitting between Agnes and my mother, I felt my back relaxing into the pew, and my face softening from the mask I had worn all week.
I thought I might cry. Mother and Agnes would not let me help them with dinner when we came back home. I sat with my father on the bench in the sun. He held his face up to the warmth and kept his head cocked that way all the time we talked. You hardly said a word about him. But you have been in his studio— you told us about the cleaning and the measurements, but nothing about the painting he is working on.
Describe it to me. I have little to think of now except for memories. It will give me pleasure to imagine a painting by a master, even if my mind creates only a poor imitation. Although my mother was a better cook than Tanneke, the brown bread was dry, the vegetable stew tasteless with no fat to flavor it. The room, too, was different—no marble tiles, no thick silk curtains, no tooled leather chairs. Everything was simple and clean, without ornamentation.
I loved it because I knew it, but I was aware now of its dullness. At the end of the day it was hard saying good-bye to my parents—harder than when I had first left, because this time I knew what I was going back to.
Agnes walked with me as far as Market Square. When we were alone, I asked her how she was. She had been lively all day but had now grown subdued. We did manage to meet in the Meat Hall several times. I was always glad to see her—as long as I was alone. I began to find my place at the house on the Oude Langendijck. Catharina, Tanneke and Cornelia were all difficult at times, but usually I was left alone to my work.
She had decided, for her own reasons, that I was a useful addition, and the others, even the children, followed her example. Perhaps she felt the clothes were cleaner and better bleached now that I had taken on the laundry. Or that the meat was more tender now that I chose it. Or that he was happier with a clean studio.
These first two things were true. The last, I did not know. When he and I finally spoke it was not about my cleaning. I was careful to deflect any praise for better housekeeping from myself. I did not want to make enemies. If Maertge said her apron was whiter than before, I said it was because the summer sun was particularly strong now.
I avoided Catharina when I could. Her mood was not improved by the baby she carried, which made her ungainly and nothing like the graceful lady of the house she felt herself to be. It was a hot summer too, and the baby was especially active. It began to kick whenever she walked, or so she said. As she grew bigger she went about the house with a tired, pained look. She took to staying in bed later and later, so that Maria Thins took over her keys and unlocked the studio door for me in the morning.
Tanneke and I began to do more and more of her work—looking after the girls, buying things for the house, changing the baby.
One day when Tanneke was in a good mood, I asked her why they did not take on more servants to make things easier.
Or a cook? It would take me years of work to be able to buy something as fine as the yellow mantle that Catharina kept so carelessly folded in her cupboard. It did not seem possible that they could be short of money. She sounded disapproving. It stops you having them, you know, if you feed your own. Three paintings a year he does, usually. Sometimes only two. He would always paint at his own pace. Young mistress wants him to paint more, but my mistress says speed would ruin him.
Tanneke was fiercely loyal to her mistress. She had little patience with Catharina, however, and when she was in the right mood she advised me on how to handle her. She never checks, she never notices. She just orders us about because she feels she has to. But we know who our real mistress is, and so does she. She was fickle in her moods, perhaps from being caught between Catharina and Maria Thins for so many years.
Despite her confident words about ignoring what Catharina said, Tanneke did not follow her own advice. And Maria Thins, for all her fairness, did not defend Tanneke from Catharina.
I never once heard Maria Thins berate her daughter for anything, though Catharina needed it at times. Perhaps her loyalty made up for her sloppiness about the house—corners unmopped, meat burned on the outside and raw on the inside, pots not scrubbed thoroughly.
I could not imagine what she had done to his studio when she tried to clean it. Though Maria Thins rarely scolded Tanneke, they both knew she ought to, and this kept Tanneke uncertain and quick to defend herself. It became clear to me that in spite of her shrewd ways, Maria Thins was soft on the people closest to her. Her judgment was not as sound as it appeared. Of the four girls, Cornelia was, as she had shown the first morning, the most unpredictable.
Both Lisbeth and Aleydis were good, quiet girls, and Maertge was old enough to begin learning the ways of the house, which steadied her— though occasionally she would have a fit of temper and shout at me much like her mother.
Cornelia did not shout, but she was at times ungovernable. She could be funny and playful one moment, then turn the next, like a purring cat who bites the hand stroking it. While loyal to her sisters, she did not hesitate to make them cry by pinching them hard.
I was wary of Cornelia, and could not be fond of her in the way I came to be of the others. I escaped from them all when I cleaned the studio. Maria Thins unlocked the door for me and sometimes stayed a few minutes to check on the painting, as if it were a sick child she was nursing.
Once she left, though, I had the room to myself. I looked around to see if anything had changed. Nothing, however, changed in the corner he was painting.
I was careful not to displace any of it, quickly adjusting to my way of measuring so that I was able to clean that area almost as quickly and confidently as the rest of the room.
There seemed to be no changes to the painting, as hard as I looked for them. Another day the shadow of the yellow curtain had grown bigger. I thought too that some of the fingers on her right hand had been moved. The satin mantle began to look so real I wanted to reach out and touch it. I had just been reaching over to stroke the fur collar when I had looked up to see Cornelia in the doorway, watching me.
One of the other girls would have asked me what I was doing, but Cornelia had just watched. That was worse than any questions. Maertge insisted on coming with me to the fish stalls one morning several weeks after I had begun working at the house. She loved to run through Market Square, looking at things, petting the horses, joining other children in their games, sampling smoked fish from various stalls.
As I smiled I saw Agnes hovering near us, her eyes fixed on Maertge. I still had not told Agnes there was a girl her age in the house—I thought it might upset her, that she would feel she was being replaced. Sometimes when I visited my family at home I felt awkward telling them anything. My new life was taking over the old. When Agnes looked at me I shook my head slightly so that Maertge would not see, and turned away to put the fish in my pail. I took my time—I could not bear to see the hurt look on her face.
I did not know what Maertge would do if Agnes spoke to me. When I turned around Agnes had gone. I shall have to explain to her when I see her Sunday, I thought. I have two families now, and they must not mix. I was hanging out washing in the courtyard, shaking out each piece before hanging it taut from the line, when Catharina appeared, breathing heavily.
She sat down on a chair by the door, closed her eyes and sighed.
I continued what I was doing as if it were natural for her to sit with me, but my jaw tightened. Two sets of feet were climbing the stairs. I heard the door close. Now help me up. I did not think she could grow much bigger and still manage to walk. Later I asked Tanneke why Catharina had been hiding. She was looking in it and knocked it over.
You know how clumsy she is. She clearly did not want to talk about the box. When I arrived to clean the studio, the easel and chair had been moved to one side. The desk was in their place, cleared of papers and prints. On it sat a wooden box about the size of a chest for storing clothes in. A smaller box was attached to one side, with a round object protruding from it.
I did not understand what it was, but I did not dare touch it. I went about my cleaning, glancing over at it now and then as if its use would suddenly become clear to me.
I cleaned the corner, then the rest of the room, dusting the box so that I hardly touched it with my cloth. I cleaned the storeroom and mopped the floor. When I was done I stood in front of the box, arms crossed, moving around to study it.
My back was to the door but I knew suddenly that he was standing there. He must have made the door creak, for then I was able to turn and face him. He was leaning against the threshold, wearing a long black robe over his daily clothes. He was watching me curiously, but he did not seem anxious that I might damage his box. It was the first time he had spoken directly to me since he asked about the vegetables many weeks before. He propped up the lid at an angle so that the box was partly open.
There was a bit of glass underneath. He leaned over and peered into the space between the lid and box, then touched the round piece at the end of the smaller box. Then he took off his robe.
I shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. He removed his hat, placing it on the chair by the easel, and pulled the robe over his head as he leaned over the box again. I took a step back and glanced at the doorway behind me. Catharina had little will to climb the stairs these days, but I wondered what Maria Thins, or Cornelia, or anyone would think if they saw us. When I turned back I kept my eyes fixed on his shoes, which were gleaming from the polish I had given them the day before.
He stood up at last and pulled the robe from his head, his hair ruffled. Now you look. I stood rooted to my place. Then the image will be stronger. And look at it from this angle so it will not be upside down. The thought of me covered with his robe, unable to see, and him looking at me all the while, made me feel faint. I was meant to do as he said. I pressed my lips together, then stepped up to the box, to the end where the lid had been lifted. I bent over and looked in at the square of milky glass fixed inside.
There was a faint drawing of something on it. He draped his robe gently over my head so that it blocked out all light. It was still warm from him, and smelled of the way brick feels when it has been baked by the sun. I placed my hands on the table to steady myself and closed my eyes for a moment.
I felt as if I had drunk my evening beer too quickly. I opened my eyes and saw the painting, without the woman in it. I stepped back from the box, treading on the cloth.
I moved my foot. I will wash the robe this morning. What did you see? I was terribly confused, and a little frightened.
What was in the box was a trick of the devil, or something Catholic I did not understand. And things were—switched around. There are mirrors that can fix that. How did it get there?
He was smiling. When he smiled his face was like an open window. It is made of a piece of glass cut in a certain way. I was staring at him so hard, trying to understand, that my eyes began to water. It is not a word I know. More than anything I wanted him to think I could follow what he said. I thought for a moment. He handed me his robe. I grasped his robe, my hands shaking. For a moment I thought of simply pretending to look, and saying that I had.
But he would know I was lying. And I was curious. It became easier to consider it without him watching me. I took a deep breath and gazed down into the box. I could see on the glass a faint trace of the scene in the corner. As I brought the robe over my head the image, as he called it, became clearer and clearer—the table, the chairs, the yellow curtain in the corner, the back wall with the map hanging on it, the ceramic pot gleaming on the table, the pewter basin, the powder-brush, the letter.
They were all there, assembled before my eyes on a flat surface, a painting that was not a painting. I cautiously touched the glass—it was smooth and cold, with no traces of paint on it. I put the robe over me once more, closing out the light, and watched the jeweled colors appear again. They seemed to be even brighter and more colorful on the glass than they were in the corner.
When I heard the tap on the door I just had time to straighten up and let the robe drop to my shoulders before he walked in. Have you looked properly? I was as amazed as you the first time my friend showed it to me. I use it to help me see, so that I am able to make the painting. I felt as if I were being tricked. Whatever I answered would be wrong. He turned and snapped the box shut. I slipped off his robe and held it out to him. I thought about what he had said, about how the box helped him to see more.