Griet is a 15-year old girl who is forced to work to help sustain her family after her father lost his sight. She is hired in the household of the famous painter, Vermeer. Her most important task is to clean his study without upsetting the order of his brushes, colors, paintings, and scenes.
Vermeer is a particular artist obsessed with the effect of light and shadow, and with creating the most exquisite colors from natural elements to produce a more realistic effect on his paintings. Vermeer discovers Griet’s acute sense of color and beauty and teaches her the art of mixing and creating colors from diverse materials. A master-apprentice relationship secretly started, but unfortunately it would be to the detriment of one of them.
Tracy Chevalier is one of my favorite writers. I love that her stories bring to foreground women in different trades instead of the often male-dominated nobility. Girl with the Pearl Earring is no exception.
It is not easy to describe paintings with words - not only the scenes in a particular piece but also the colors, shades, light effect, and people’s expressions. Tracy Chevalier, in my humble opinion, did a great job describing Vermeer’s paintings without overshadowing Griet’s story.