loading1
loading2
alt

Project

Category

Partner Project
Collaborative Project

Start

2017

Status

Completed

THE GIRL IN THE SPOTLIGHT

A TECHNICAL (RE-)EXAMINATION OF VERMEER’S GIRLS WITH A PEARL EARRING IN FRONT OF THE PUBLIC

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1665) is the most beloved painting in the collection of the Mauritshuis. The Girl was last examined during a 1994 restoration treatment, within the project Vermeer Illuminated.

In February-March 2018, the Girl was re-examined in front of museum visitors at the Mauritshuis. Several complementary imaging techniques were employed, including: technical photography, multispectralinfrared reflectography, reflectance and fluorescence imaging spectroscopy (hyperspectral imaging), fibreoptic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), multi-scale scanning optical coherence tomography (MS-OCT), 3D colour/(gloss)/topography scanning, 3Ddigital microscopy, macroscopicX-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) and macroscopicX-ray powder diffraction (MA-XRPD). Also, the samples mounted in 1994 were re-examined, and new forms of microscopic, organic and inorganic analysis were carried out to identify the pigments and binding media. Advances in computation and data science allow the results of these techniques to be co-registered and compared, and new results to be generated.

These complementary research methods have allowed the Girl in the Spotlight team to: visualise and identify materials at and beneath the surface of the painting, scan the surface topography, and examine the surface at an extremely high magnification. Ultimately, they reveal the steps Vermeer took to create the iconic image of the Girl using layers of paint and subtle optical effects. They also provide valuable information about how the painting originally looked, and the changes that have occurred over time.

 

The Girl in the spotlight

Composite image made from technical images of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665, Mauritshuis). Credit: Sylvain Fleur + the Girl in the Spotlight team.

 

The research team was led by Mauritshuis paintings conservator Abbie Vandivere. The Girl in the Spotlight was a Mauritshuis initiative and involved a team of internationally recognised specialists associated with the Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ (NICAS: Rijksmuseum, TU Delft, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) and the University of Amsterdam), together with the University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam, Hirox Europe, the National Gallery of Art, Washington and many other partners.

 

PROJECT LEADER
PROJECT TEAM
  • Robert van Langh (Rijksmuseum)
  • Rob Erdmann (Rijksmuseum)
  • Annelies van Loon (Rijksmuseum)
  • Alessa Gambardella (Rijksmuseum/AkzoNobel)
  • Joris Dik (Technical University Delft)
  • Tom Callewaert (Technical University Delft)
  • Mathijs van Hengstum (Technical University Delft)
  • Willemijn Elkhuizen (Technical University Delft)
  • Tessa Essers (Technical University Delft)
  • Yu Song (Technical University Delft)
  • Jo Geraedts (Technical University Delft)
  • Victor Gonzalez (Technical University Delft)
  • Rob Erdmann (University of Amsterdam)
  • Klaas Jan van den Berg (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)
  • Bauke Zeilstra  (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)
  • Art Ness Proaño Gaibor (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)
  • Suzan de Groot (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)
  • Henk van Keulen (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)
  • Ralph Haswell (Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam)
  • Wim Genuit (Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam)
  • Onno de Noord (Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam)
  • Bob van Wingerden (Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam)
  • Ron Heeren (Maastricht University)
  • Anne Bruinen (Maastricht University)
  • Koen Janssens (University of Antwerp – AXES group)
  • Geert van der Snickt (University of Antwerp – AXES group)
  • Frederik Vanmeert (University of Antwerp – AXES group)
  • Steven de Meyer (University of Antwerp – AXES group)
  • Rani Vertongen (University of Antwerp – AXES group)
  • John Delaney (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
  • Kate Dooley (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
  • Paolo D’Imporzano (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
  • Gareth R. Davies (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
  • Jørgen Wadum (CATS at Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen)
  • Emilien Leonhardt (Hirox Europe: Jyfel)
  • Vincent Sabatier (Hirox Europe: Jyfel)
  • René Gerritsen (René Gerritsen Art & Research Photography)
  • Jaap Hoogerdijk (René Gerritsen Art & Research Photography)
PARTICIPATING INSTITUTIONS
  • Mauritshuis
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam (STCA)
  • Delft University of Technology
  • University of Antwerp
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington)
  • Hirox
  • CATS (Copenhagen)
  • Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
  • VU University Amsterdam
  • Maastricht University

 

 

ARTICLES

Click here to read 10 articles that the project has published as a special collection in the journal ‘Heritage Science’

 

NEWS

April 2020 – Closer to Vermeer and the Girl – New discoveries and insights from the international scientific examination