October 09, 2008

Art in Miniature: Interpreting Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'

Sometimes what you don't see is as important of what you do see.

In a previous post, I highlighted an amazing project by miniature doll artisan Lucie Winsky, who is recreating several famous artists and their masterpieces in 1/12th dollhouse scale. You can see the figures she has completed so far here.

Lucie's latest commission, interpreting the work of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, has proven to be even more challenging.

To make his now famous masterpiece, "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (Het Meisje met de Parel), come to life, Lucie found herself with a dilemma. Interestingly, it is one of those things that most of us probably overlook. Can you guess what it is?

"I have seen other miniature doll artists' representations of the 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' in the past and she was standing, which is why I had the idea in my head until I saw the movie," says Lucie.

Hollywood Meets Vermeer

Ah, Hollywood strikes again. But it does present an interesting question - is the "Girl with the Pearl Earring" seated or standing?

Some people make the argument that many of Vermeer's portraits do feature women who are seated, although he seemed to have painted an equal amount of women standing as judged by the works featured in this gallery.

Does it matter? Not really, except that for a doll artist, the doll's position does have an impact on the body proportions, especially in miniature scale. (Miniature dollhouse sized dolls are 1 inch scale or 1 inch = 1 foot).

Lucie's final decision?

She decided to make only half-legs for the doll and have her stand -but the doll can be seated if the new owner chooses. "A sitting doll is a bit different as you have to make the legs a bit longer when you assemble her so her feet will touch the floor," she says.

I will post a photo when the doll is completed.

The painting, completed by Vermeer in the mid-1600s and now housed in The Hague, The Netherlands, was virtually unknown until its sale in the late 1880s. Read more about "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" here.

** Your Turn: What's your opinion? Do you think "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" is seated or standing? Feel free to share your reason why.


  1. The turn of her face seems as if she were standing, and glanced over at the artist. If this were a photograph, I would think that. Since it's a portrait, I'm inclined to think she was sitting.

  2. I see a lot of motion in the picture -- she seems fluid, as if she is on her way somewhere and turned to look ... therefore, I vote for walking!

    Margaret Grace
    "Mayhem in Miniature"

  3. That pearl girl is very pretty.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. Lucie Winsky appears to be a very talented individual. If she thinks the pearl girl was sitting, then she probably was...!

  5. I would argue that she is seated, based on the fact that her pose looks uncomfortable for someone standing and turning, and does not have the sense of motion.

    I see that there are others who disagree with my verdict completely. Unless someone uncovers more information, I doubt we will ever know.


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