Ingenious Improvised Recreations of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Using Materials Found Around the House

One can only tol­er­ate so many edu­ca­tion­al videos in self-iso­la­tion before the brain begins to rebel.

Hands-on learn­ing. That’s what we’re crav­ing.

And ulti­mate­ly, that’s what the Get­ty pro­vides with an addic­tive chal­lenge to cap­tive audi­ences on Twit­terFace­book, and Insta­gram to re-cre­ate icon­ic art­works using three house­hold objects.

Par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to look at the Get­ty’s down­load­able, dig­i­tized col­lec­tion and beyond for a piece that speaks to them, pos­si­bly because of their abil­i­ty to match it by dint of hair col­or, physique or  per­fect prop.)

Cer­tain works quick­ly emerged as favorites, with Johannes Ver­meer’s Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring (c. 1665) the clear front run­ner.

The Mau­rit­shuis, where Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring is quar­an­tined, along with oth­er Hague-dwellers such as Rem­brandt’s The Anato­my Les­son of Dr Nico­laes Tulp and Fab­ri­tius’ The Goldfinch, describes it thus­ly:

Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring is Vermeer’s most famous paint­ing. It is not a por­trait, but a ‘tron­ie’ – a paint­ing of an imag­i­nary fig­ure. Tron­ies depict a cer­tain type or char­ac­ter; in this case a girl in exot­ic dress, wear­ing an ori­en­tal tur­ban and an improb­a­bly large pearl in her ear.

Johannes Ver­meer was the mas­ter of light. This is shown here in the soft­ness of the girl’s face and the glim­mers of light on her moist lips. And of course, the shin­ing pearl.

Let’s have a look, shall we?


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Ver­meer’s extra­or­di­nary appli­ca­tion of light and shad­ow is a tall order for most ama­teurs, but it’s won­der­ful to see how much care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion has been giv­en to the orig­i­nal sub­jec­t’s expres­sion, the cant of her head, the arrange­ment of her gar­ments.

It seems the best way to study a work of art is to become that work of art… espe­cial­ly when one is trapped at home, seek­ing dis­trac­tion, and forced to impro­vise with avail­able objects.

Let us pray we’ll be set loose long before Hal­loween, but also that the chal­lenge tak­ers won’t for­get how inge­nious, eas­i­ly sourced, and cost-effec­tive their cos­tumes were: a pil­low­case, a but­ton, an invert­ed par­ty dress, the hem of a sib­ling’s blue t‑shirt, res­cued from the rag bag still smelling faint­ly of vine­gar from pre-coro­n­avirus house­hold clean­ing.

That off-the-rack “sexy cat” won’t stand a chance.


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No one’s dis­qual­i­fied if the num­ber of items used in ser­vice of these recre­ations exceeds the orig­i­nal­ly stiu­plat­ed 3. As long as the par­tic­i­pants are hav­ing (edu­ca­tion­al!) fun, this is one of those chal­lenges where every­body wins… espe­cial­ly the baby, the dog, the guy with the mus­tache and the lady with the turkey on her head, even though the baby and the guy with the mus­tache for­got their ear­rings.


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Some tips for par­tic­i­pants accom­pa­ny a hand­ful of mem­o­rable entries on the Get­ty’s behind-the-scenes blog, The Iris. We’ve got links to a num­ber of world class muse­ums’ and libraries’ dig­i­tal col­lec­tions here  and can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Mean­while, enjoy even more recre­ations by search­ing for #get­ty­chal­lenge or hav­ing a look at the Insta­gram of Tussen Kun­st & Quar­an­taine, whose attempt to con­jure Girl With A Pearl Ear­ring using a place­mat, a tow­el and a gar­lic bulb, launched the project that prompt­ed the Get­ty and the Rijksmu­se­um to fol­low suit.

Extra points if you accept the #neck­ruf­fchal­lenge inspired by our his­to­ry-lov­ing artist friend, Tyler Gun­ther’s take on the #get­ty­chal­lenge, below.


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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load All 36 of Jan Vermeer’s Beau­ti­ful­ly Rare Paint­ings (Most in Bril­liant High Res­o­lu­tion)

See the Com­plete Works of Ver­meer in Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty: Google Makes Them Avail­able on Your Smart­phone

Flash­mob Recre­ates Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” in a Dutch Shop­ping Mall

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  She has been crowd­sourc­ing art in iso­la­tion, most recent­ly a hasti­ly assem­bled trib­ute to the clas­sic 60s social line dance, The Madi­son. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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