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Art Diary

The Girl in the Spotlight

7 May 2020

While museums around the world are shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Apollo’s usual weekly pick of exhibition openings will be replaced by a selection of digital initiatives providing virtual access to art and culture.

Two years ago the Mauritshuis in The Hague undertook a scientific examination of the museum’s best known painting, the Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer. The examination, the first since the painting’s restoration in 1994, was carried out in full public view. Now, members of the public can learn the results of the project, all gathered in one place on the Mauritshuis website. There is a helpful summary of the findings – such as the discovery that Vermeer painted his famous subject in front of a green curtain, not the dark void we now see – presented via text, images and videos, as well as links to the more in-depth scientific articles and further information on the project. A highlight is a ‘zoomable’ image of the painting itself, made using a microscope that allows you to view details at 140x magnification. Visit the Girl in the Spotlight project page to learn more.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here

Abbie Vandivere (Mauritshuis) and Annelies van Loon (Mauritshuis/Rijksmuseum) set up the macroscopic X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) scanner to scan the Girl.

Abbie Vandivere (Mauritshuis) and Annelies van Loon (Mauritshuis/Rijksmuseum) set up the macroscopic X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) scanner to scan Girl with a Pearl Earring in 2018. Photo: Ivo Hoekstra/Mauritshuis

3D digital microphotograph of the blue headscarf at 140x magnification (1.1 μm/pixel).

3D digital microphotograph of the blue headscarf at 140x magnification (1.1 μm/pixel). Image: Hirox Europe, Jyfel

Composite image of Girl with a Pearl Earring from images made during the Girl in the Spotlight project. Image: Sylvain Fleur and the Girl in the Spotlight team

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