The Girl in the Spotlight

From Monday 26 February to Sunday 11 March 2018 an in-depth scientific examination of the Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer will take place: ‘The Girl in the Spotlight’. The museum’s most famous painting was last examined in 1994, during a conservation treatment.

Update: meanwhile the research team has unveiled their results. The team made discoveries about Vermeer’s brushwork, his use of pigments, and the way that he ‘built up’ this painting using different layers. Read all about the results of The Girl in the Spotlight research project.

Although further restoration is not yet required, major advances in non-invasive technical analysis have been made over the last 25 years. The Mauritshuis hopes to learn more about how Vermeer painted the Girl with a Pearl Earring, as well as the materials that he used. The research will take two weeks and will be conducted in public at the Mauritshuis. The latest technologies will be used.

Specially equipped workshop

In order to make the research into the Girl with a Pearl Earring visible to visitors, the Mauritshuis has constructed a studio with a glass enclosure in the museum’s ‘Golden Room’. The painting will be examined 24 hours a day from Monday 26 February to Sunday 11 March 2018. As part of a multimedia presentation, Mauritshuis paintings conservator and head researcher Abbie Vandivere will explain what is taking place inside the workshop using videos and daily updates.

Tentoonstellingen Het Meisje In De Schijnwerper
Mauritshuis paintings conservator and Head researcher Abbie Vandivere studies the Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Research questions

The Girl with a Pearl Earring is a seventeenth-century painting that sparks the imagination. Her enigmatic gaze, Vermeer’s use of colour, and the outstanding play of light in this work captivate everyone who sees it. Researchers are also fascinated by the painting, and have a number of unanswered questions about how Vermeer painted this iconic work of art and which materials he used. The project The Girl in the Spotlight aims to come closer to resolving these issues using the latest technologies to investigate the canvas, pigments, oil and other materials that Vermeer used to create his renowned painting.

Closer than ever

For visitors, the project The Girl in the Spotlight will be a unique opportunity to witness the scientific examination of a world-famous painting. The painting may be difficult to view at some point during these two weeks, but a high-tech 3D reproduction by Océ-technologies will be on display so that visitors can take photos. Public lectures about the project will take place on Saturday 10 March.

Back on display

From Monday 12 March, the Girl with a Pearl Earring will be back on display in the usual location in Room 15. The research team will then continue its work by analysing the data. Final results will only be available after this analysis has taken place.