Portrait of a Woman Scorned: Girl with a Pearl Earring

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Portrait of a Woman Scorned
The Fairer Sex Treated Not-So Fairly
Curated by Katherine Anderson

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1667

There's something fishy that happens to a piece of artwork when it surpasses superstardom. Let's use Ferris Bueller's Day Off as an example. Despite its clever pranks and existential advice, there's always this strange feeling of boredom when someone suggests to watch it. Not because it isn't good, but because it's overused. It's a common phenomenon with things like Coldplay, McDonald's hamburgers, and 30 Rock. The "cult following" of once-good things turns off any desire to enjoy them. The same thing happens with art. For example, the fact that Van Gogh's Starry Night pops up on every art-related greeting card or notebook cover makes any painting connoisseur moderately nauseous. Not because the painting lacks innovation and skill, but because somehow its mass production ruins it. Similarly, Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring has been deemed banal by its Hollywood fame.

Though Girl with a Pearl Earring gained its fame from a fictional love story between the artist and its subject, that doesn't mean we, as viewers, should discount the painting's merit. With the boldness of color and complex emotion, Vermeer's masterpiece deserves a place in the Dutch Golden Age's hall of fame. Girl with the Pearl Earring exemplifies the cunning portraiture of later movements too, clearly influencing the realism of the early nineteenth century. All in all, the worthiness of this painting supersedes the hype of its fictional backstory and exemplifies the pinnacle of artistic inspiration.

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