Located in the de Young Museum - for a short period of time - lies the Girl with a Pearl Earring, a portrait by the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer. It was painted back in 1665, during the Baroque period, with the use of oil on canvas. Girl with a Pearl Earring is considered to be one of Vermeer's most famous piece of work. At first, it was named Girl with a Turban but later renamed in the latter half of the twentieth century. Now, the painting is also described as the "Mona Lisa of the North" or "the Dutch Mona Lisa." Unfortunately, not much is known about Johannes Vermeer. Today, there are still no confirmed images of Vermeer himself. Just like how we know Michelangelo Caravaggio's life through his police records, there is some information on Vermeer through legal documents. It is known that Vermeer married Catharine Bolenes, a girl raised in a Catholic family. He then proceeded to convert to Catholicism for his mother in law. Due to his conversion to Catholicism in 1653, Vermeer incorporated religious symbolism in his paintings. For example, in Woman Holding a Balance (c. 1664), the Last Judgment is depicted in the background of the painting. However, there doesn't seem to be any religious symbolism present in the Girl with a Pearl Earring. Vermeer was a painter of light and was an avid fan of the camera obscura. By using the camera obscura, it intensified the reflective surfaces of the pearl earring, her eyes, and lips. In Dutch traditions, using a black background helped to make the focus of the painting three-dimensional and Vermeer used that technique quite a bit. .
There is still a debate going on among people who the girl depicted is in this masterpiece. One of the theories on the identity of the girl is Vermeer's eldest daughter, Maria. When the painting was created, she would've been twelve, maybe thirteen years old at the time. Another speculation floating around is that the painting features a servant girl named Griet.