Virtual Museum: The Girl with a Pearl Earring

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“Girl with a Pearl Earring”

Oil on canvas, 1665
by Johannes Vermeer
Dutch, 1632-1675
Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

Swivelling to her left, she glances suddenly in our direction, her soft face as luminous as the moon in the night sky. She wears a voluptuous blue and yellow turban on her head, while an improbably plump pearl hangs from her earlobe. A speck of bright moisture adorns the corner of her mouth, which is open as though she is about to speak. Her words, though, remain a mystery.
Seductive yet silent, this exquisite nameless creature is known simply as the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. The inspiration for a bestselling historical novel by Tracy Chevalier, which in turn was adapted into a 2003 film starring Scarlett Johansson, she was painted around 1665 by Johannes Vermeer, one of the masters of the art of the Dutch Golden Age. (bbc culture)

Vermeer’s most famous painting is also one of the best-loved paintings in the world.

Johannes Vermeer or Jan Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of ordinary life. His entire life was spent in the town of Delft. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial painter in his lifetime. He seems never to have been particularly wealthy, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death.

Virtually forgotten for nearly one hundred years, Vermeer was rediscovered in 1866 when the art critic Thore Burger published an essay attributing 66 pictures to him (only 35 paintings are firmly attributed to him today). Since that time Vermeer’s reputation has grown, and he is now acknowledged as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age, and is particularly renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work. (Vermeer-foundation.org)

The Girl with the Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter’s attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings – the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings. (tchevalier.com)

It was originally titled Girl with a Turban and it wasn’t until the second half of the twentieth century that the name was changed. Regarded as Vermeer’s masterpiece, this canvas is often referred to as the Mona Lisa of the North or the Dutch Mona Lisa. (artble.com)

Village day in a Hungarian countryside

We’ve been to many village days in France, Italy and other European countries but this one in Hungary – Kistolmacs – had us impressed and totally bowled over. For a village of 174 inhabitants, activities for each age group have been meticulously planned for and imagine, a hot-air balloon and only two dozen people watching! So lucky were we to be there at the right moment!

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Foam party for the tots!

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Hungarian cheese. The best are those shaped like croissants.

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Even Charlie found himself something to do.

Happy National Coffee Day

My take.

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Something we always do when in the UK is having coffee at tradfitional English tearooms. It’s not only the very English atmosphere inside but the feeling of royalty while enjoying their crumpets, scones or cakes along with our coffee.

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In France, it’s normal to order coffee at a café and have it with bread or patisserie you bought from a boulangerie (bakery) or patisserie shop. I bought this “special” bread from a gay boulangerie in the Marais in Paris for the sake of trying it with my coffee. It tastes fine, the only problem was, I was too meek to be seen eating it (I was on a table outside!) so I spent the whole time covering it with a napkin everytime someone walks past.

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My first taste of espresso was in Italy 16 years ago. Yes, what you see is what you get. Ten ml of coffee so strong that you might find your heart palpitating seconds after drinking it.

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In Europe, it’s normal to be served a bit of chocolate with your coffee as it actually makes the coffee tastes better when taken with something sweet.

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In Siquijor, Philippines, everytime we ordered coffee, we were given sachets of Nescafe accompanied by a pair of scissors. I asked the waitress what the cutter is for and she said it’s for snipping the sachets as it is usually hard to rip them with the teeth.

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