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Girl with a Pearl Earring (the film)

I was underwhelmed by the film of the book.

Speaking to resident Rust film critic Neil Rosen he asserted that this is quite normal and the only improvement of a film on a book was in his view The Godfather Part 1. 

The warning signs are in the credits if  “based on the novel” appears and the novelist is not an attributed scriptwriter.

The novel by Tracy Chevalier focused on the family of scullery girl in the Vermeer household Griet the blind tile painting father, the rather manipulative mother who was pleased by the butcher son Pieter’s courtship of Griet as it  meant meat on their table: there was younger sister Agnes who died of the plague and brother Frans who flew the family coop.

These were not fleshed out in the film.

Of the cast, I liked best Colin Firth as Johannes Vermeer.

He came across, as he perhaps was, as an artist devoted to his art.

It was Scarlett Johansson’s first major part as Griet and possibly owed to her Northern European looks.

Neil said she grabbed her opportunity as she again played a girl fixated with an older man platonically in Lost in Translation alongside Bill Murray.

The consequence of my mild obsession with Vermeer is I have re-evaluated him as a painter. As he did no more than 40 works he simply does not have the range of others commonly labelled great.

Yesterday I perused a book on Camille Pissarro, the oldest of the Impressionists.

He produced over 1,500 works varying from landscapes to portraits to late in life cityscapes of Paris.

I was struck by one study Mother Jolly Darning.

It is of a woman lost in her thoughts doing tedious work and redolent of Vermeer.

This may be Vermeer’s lasting legacy: painting ordinary people at work.

One must remember that this is was a drastic departure from commissions of royal and ducal families.

It falls to very few artists to paint a work of total global recognition like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Edvard Munich’s The Scream but Girl with a Pearl Earring is one.

When I saw it in the Mauritzshuis in The Hague a year ago the painting was surrounded and photographed by enthralled Japanese tourists.

I was happier to go to an adjoining room to see more calmly the Van Ruisdaels and Hobbemas.

About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts

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