I am Nithya Rajapandian, a Fashion & Portrait Photographer from India. This tiny spark of recreating iconic paintings through a creative Photo series that uncovers the backstory of the painting started 3 months back and now I am so happy to have completed it in the way I dreamt of. We chose a Masterpiece of the Dutch Golden Age – Girl with the pearl earring created by Johannes Vermeer. The painting later became known to the world as the “Mona Lisa of the North,” and this painting represents the best of Dutch art.
We tried to weave an imaginary story behind this painting – trying to unravel by letting loose our imagination by characterizing the girl as ‘Beatrijs’. Hope you will find this Photo narrative interesting and I would love to share know your thoughts.
I would like to thank our team Preeti Kumari ( as Beajtrijs ) , Felicia ( The Makeup artist ), Raji ( Designer and Stylist ) & Frank Donald (Co-photographer) for making this dream project possible.
“I have a woman, a beautiful woman, my wife – waiting back at my home, Beajtrijs. Yet, here I am with you. I have chosen to paint you. Those eyes. There’s something about it. Something about your eyes”, Vermeer’s thoughts were running far and can’t stop looking at her eyes as she was getting ready to pose for his painting.
Beatrijs catches his stare when she is tying up her hair. She is already nervous since she always had this indescribable pull towards Vermeer, whenever assisting him while he is painting or cleaning his room where he paints. Now that she has to pose for his painting – she has no clue to handle the restlessness throughout her. She avoids looking him in the eye.
“Your hair looks beautiful, Beajtrijs, but let’s just get that tied up for now,” he whispered as he slowly walked towards her. She looked down and tried to control her breathing pace as it started to speed up as he approached her.
Vermeer was trying to figure out the colors for the turban that Beatrijs will be wearing for the painting. He picked the cream & gold piece of cloth and kept looking at it in the sunshine that was coming through the window.
She came around and picked up the blue piece of cloth and kept near the gold to see how the colors work together. Yes, she was a young maid at Vermeer’s home – who cleans, assists in household chores. Over the period of time, Vermeer was awed by the way she gave inputs on observing the right color in different light conditions. Vermeer knew she was naturally gifted in seeing colors in its full glory. Slowly, he made her help with mixing colors for his paintings.
So, when she came up with this blue cloth to finish the turban look, he didn’t think twice. Also, least did he know this is going to be historical and even centuries later, people are going to look at this painting and will still be amazed.
She sat there, looking out of the window, with lots of thoughts running in her mind.
Beatrijs was born and brought up in a working class family during the 16th century. So hard times were the predominant ones in her life.
However, at this moment was that one time which she felt she was appreciated and loved. She has been asked to pose for a painting which she never dreamt of doing.
Intervening these thoughts, Vermeer suddenly asked her to get her ears pierced. She was shocked since has not done that in her entire life since it was not a common practice among the Dutch working class.
So, Vermeer did it for her. He didn’t say why he wanted to get her ears pierced for the painting and least did they know it was a beginning of something becoming iconic.
Then he brought a tiny box in his hands and handed her the pair of pearl earrings, shining in even in that dark room.
She took it in her hands with mix of emotions and first refused to wear it. It is invaluable, very expensive. First and foremost, it was his wife’s. So Beatrijs refrained from wearing but Vermeer had a vision with using these pearls in his painting.
She wore the pearls. And for the first time Vermeer saw something that has more life than her eyes. “The Pearls”. The Pearl glimmering against the background that he chose to paint. The rest is history.
He asked Beatrijs to sit and turn away from him.
She sat down.
He asked to turn and look at him.
Their eyes met with intense connection.
He asked her to part her lips.
And there was the iconic painting –
“The Girl with the pearl earring.”
Hope you like this Photo narrative series, do share your thoughts and feedback in regards to this series.