Girl with the Pearl Earring is a famous oil painting by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. Created around 1665, it is one of the most iconic paintings of all time: a fetching young woman looks over her shoulder, her mouth slightly open, wearing a Turkish turban and large pearl earring. The Dutch public recently selected it as the most beautiful painting in the Netherlands and it is beloved by many.
This masterpiece is the inspiration for my Color Crush this week. The palette is muted, in part because that was what was available in the mid seventeenth-century in the region. The pigments of Vermeer’s palette have an interesting story:
- White lead: the only white used in European easel paintings until the 19th century
- Yellow ochre: made from an opaque natural clay
- Vermilion: created by heating mercury and sulfur
- Red madder: an extract from the root of the madder plant, put in a clay base
- Red ochre: a red clay
- Brown ochre (raw umber): a semi-transparent color
- Charcoal black: made of powdered charcoal or bones with a brownish tone
- Coal black: collected from the soot from burning oils and fats
- Ultramarine blue (lapis lazuli): made by powdering a semi-precious stone
- Weld (luteoline): a rare pigment made from yellow flowers rare yellow pigment weld
- Indigo: a deep transparent blue from a plants
In this era, paints were ground by hand, mixed with a binder oil, and placed on a wood palette, layered carefully on the canvas. The process and time all this took makes Vermeer’s painting and use of color all the more impressive. These muted hues would be beautiful in any room of the house, and I can really see it in a room where people spend a lot of time, like a living room. It would keep the mood serene and relaxing.
How do you feel about this week’s Color Crush color palette from Girl with a Pearl Earring? I’d love to hear your thoughts — and your personal inspirations! Join us on social media, specifically Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram (don’t forget to tag @bgidesigner)!
Barbara Gilbert and her team brings expertise with color and its psychological effects to every project, no matter the style. One of our favorite things is helping clients learn to love color and make it work for them! Give Barbara a call at 214-641-7897 or use the website contact form if you’d like to be inspired by the design of your home. Barbara Gilbert Interiors brings luxury interior design services to Dallas, Highland Park, University Park, Plano, McKinney, Allen, Frisco, and many more parts of DFW. Please see the list of the areas we serve to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!