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Girl With a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier

With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer's extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries--and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier's second novel of the same title. Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant--and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model. Chevalier vividly evokes the complex domestic tensions of the household, ruled over by the painter's jealous, eternally pregnant wife and his taciturn mother-in-law. At times the relationship between servant and master seems a little anachronistic. Still, Girl with a Pearl Earring does contain a final delicious twist.

Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (1 of 50), Read 68 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, March 05, 2000 05:32 PM I loved this little gem of a book. Itís a fast read, smoothly and impeccably written. My internal Copy Editor turned itself off and I just breezed on thru. I loved the descriptions of the paintings, since I know Vermeerís work well, I could picture them in my mind as I read. I especially liked the conversation between Griet, the maid, and Vermeer, where they discuss the colors seen in the white clouds, and color in general. TC knows something about the way artists see. Ruth
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (2 of 50), Read 65 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Sunday, March 05, 2000 08:21 PM I just knew you would like this book, Ruth. Sherry
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (3 of 50), Read 65 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: JoAnn Beach (quappelle@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, March 07, 2000 07:10 PM I just noticed at the publisher's website that the cover of this book has been changed....wondering why. Has anyone read Chevalier's first novel (pub. in England where she lives) called The Virgin Blue? I am sure that, with the success of GWAPE, the earlier book will be re-released. I just ordered it through ABE from a used bookstore in England. This book left me hungry for more information about Vermeer - I realize little is known about him---and a great desire to see some of his paintings in person. I think this author did a wonderful job in portraying the artist's world in that period of history, as well as the everyday life in Delft, yet without making the story a history lesson. She had a very light touch with the facts/details that she sprinkled throughout this nove--the details she offered the reader were intruiging ones. I loved the way Chevalier maintained tension throughout the book, tension that was never resolved on a personal level: between Vermeer and Griet, between Griet and Vermeer's family. And then there was the more general tension: between the wealthy and the poor, between Catholic and Protestant. She says that it is the tension that moves this plot along. The author made us feel the chaos of the Vermeer household -ye, gods, I could not have stood it--compared to the relative calm and quiet of Griet's household. I also liked the parallel between the blind father and the sighted artist---both needing their things in a particular place, but for such very different reasons. The father is blind because he sees nothing and Vermeer can be blinded by seeing too much--thus the use of the camera obscura, where he just looked at one detail of the scene he was painting, rather than at the whole. BTW, I thought this was interesting (from an interview with Chevalier): The picture you paint of seventeenth-century Delft is very convincing. Did you go there yourself to research the story? "I did Ė I really hate to admit it but I was there for only four days. I read a lot of books, and I think more importantly I looked at a lot of paintings. Thereís so much Dutch genre painting from that time Ė scenes of domestic interiors and taverns and things like that, that you really get a picture of what it was like. "Iím not going to tell everyone to go and beat a path to Delft - they donít even know where Vermeerís house was exactly. They know the corner it was probably on, but now thereís a church there that was built in the nineteenth century. But there are some buildings that exist from Vermeer's time Ė the town hall, the church, the meat hall, the fish stalls Ė and itís a canal city and many of the houses were built in the seventeenth century. So you do get a feel for it even if the his actual house is not there." Did you study art history? Do you think it would have helped in the writing of the novel? "I didnít, no. It would have made a different book, and Iím not sure it would have helped. I talked to a few art historians when I was researching the book and I asked one what art historians would think of making a novel about Vermeerís life, given that so little is known about him. She said, 'Art historians are going to be so jealous of you, because all they can write about is what is actually there.' "If I had been an art historian I think I probably would have felt that I couldnít do it. One of the dangers of writing about this famous image is that it does trample over peopleís expectations. Everybody looks at that painting and has their own idea, and now Iíve put it into words and published it, and a lot of people will like that, but some people will s
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (4 of 50), Read 69 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: JoAnn Beach (quappelle@aol.com) Date: Tuesday, March 07, 2000 07:13 PM I have no idea why the last lines of my post did not show up. This is the ending, which must be floating around out there in cyberspace: "Everybody looks at that painting and has their own idea, and now Iíve put it into words and published it, and a lot of people will like that, but some people will say, 'How dare you do this?''" JoAnn<
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (5 of 50), Read 60 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Peg Harrah (pegish@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 10:17 AM JoAnn, enjoyed your insightful post on Girl With a Pearl Earring. Amazing when one points out the comparisons/contrasts how much more delightful the story becomes. I love these discussions because it brings out so much more for me. I am a reader of the straight story and need to work a little more to pick up the symbolism of the work. I was very involved in the artist's set up and the painting process. The details of the set up, lighting, mixing of paints, etc. was fascinating. And then Griet's quiet explanations of the paintings to her father. The Mask Carver's Son continues this art theme - along with a ton of other stuff - but again the details of the different art forms is interesting. Beginning with the choice of trees being cut down to begin the process of making the mask to the chisels used. Of course this is all done to embellish the story of the father/son relationship. Peg
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (6 of 50), Read 64 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 01:18 PM I just started this book, ordered it on the strength of the descriptions in the first few posts in this thread. Already I know I am going to like it very much. Griet is a wonderful character. And the descriptions of Delft and the details of the houses makes me think of Vermeer's paintings. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (7 of 50), Read 70 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 02:47 PM Felix, I found this page that you might enjoy while you're reading the book. It's all the paintings in the book: http://www.pearlearring.com/paintings/index.html Sherry
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (8 of 50), Read 69 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: JoAnn Beach (quappelle@aol.com) Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 03:22 PM I loved that website, how the painting was matched with Chevalier's words! And here is another---all of Vermeer's paintings with background on each: http://www.cacr.caltech.edu/~roy/vermeer/thumb.html JoAnn
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (9 of 50), Read 67 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 06:03 PM Sherry, what a great website. I gather it's TC's own. Here I was, leafing back thru the book, trying to find references to paintings so I could come up with something similar to paste here. Thanks for finding this. Ruth
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (10 of 50), Read 69 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000 08:21 PM Oh, thank you both for the websites! I can see that the page for the book follows the text very closely. I am slightly over halfway through this book, so I must be careful not to find these paintings and their citations from the book to be spoilers. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (11 of 50), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 07:23 AM While checking out the excellent website Sherry posted, put up by Tracy Chevalier, I discovered that one Vermeer mentioned in the book was stolen. Following up the link, I discovered that a huge art theft took place in Boston in 1990, resulting in the theft of a number of paintings, the Vermeer of "The Concert" as well as several Rembrandts and other artists' works. Apparently this heist has never been solved. The estimate of value mentioned in the FBI bulletin was $300 million, but this is a guess, since these works are irreplaceable. Stealing works like these is almost sacrilege. Like stealing from libraries, or churches. Some very wealthy persons or person has deprived the rest of us of these paintings. Revolting. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (12 of 50), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 08:08 AM I went to the museum in Boston where the Vermeer would have been. I remember that a Rembrandt was stolen from there, but I didn't remember about the Vermeer. I agree, Felix, about the "rich" collector. I hope whoever it is eventually gets found out and strung up by the thumbs and made to stare at paintings of big-eyed children on velvet. Sherry
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (13 of 50), Read 55 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Alison Cohen (alisonc995@aol.com) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 08:17 AM The Vermeer you spoke of, THE CONCERT, was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the Fens section of Boston along with two Rembrandts, five Degas, a Manet, a Flinck landscape and a Shang Dynasty bronze beaker from three different galleries within the museum. The museum was built by a wealthy Bostonian who dispatched Bernard Berenson to purchase art treasures for her. The museum is a bit unusual -- it is an Italianate mansion with a soaring four-story central atrium with changing floral exhibits. My favorite has been the three story cascades of nasturtiums. Isabella was a bit - uh - unusual. Her will specified that no paintings could be moved or removed. It has taken court orders to send paintings and tapestries to be repaired/restored. There are some who believe that the theft itself broke the terms of Isabella's will and should force the closure of the museum and the auctioning off of all its treasures. The thieves clearly knew what they wanted to steal and precisely where they were located. There is conjecture that it was bankrolled by some art lover content to keep the goodies hidden in his private collection. They could never be sold on the open market. The spots where the paintings hung remain empty, with just placards to tell you that he painting was stolen. There is a $5M reward for the safe recovery of the paintings. Two years before the theft, mystery writer Jane Langton used the Gardner in a book entitled MURDER AT THE GARDNER. Ironically, in an afterword, Langton said that the Gardner Museum is "wisely run and superbly protected. None of the bad things here described could possibly happen there." Two enterprising art thieves proved they could. Alison
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (14 of 50), Read 60 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 11:08 AM I think the thieves dressed as policemen. If I remember correctly, they didn't have to break in, but were let in. The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been. Just imagine your slightly odd great-great grandmother who collected bric-a-brac and whatnots to fill her house and attic to overflowing. Now reincarnate her as very, very, verrrrrrrrry rich. Besides being cram-jock with all kinds of great art,the place is a hoot, simply for its incredible mishmash of suits of armor, stained glass, hunks of stone carving, marble doohickeys, brass thingamajigs, carved furniture.... We must go there for Boston 2000. Ruth
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (15 of 50), Read 59 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 03:49 PM Yes, Ruth, I think this museum should be on our tour. I knew nothing about it until I followed the link to the FBI notice. The thieves were let it, "against museum policy." I like Sherry's idea about a fitting punishment for the "collector." He/she should be condemned to read and re-read the collected works of Rod McKuen(sp?), and nothing else the rest of his life, as well. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (16 of 50), Read 61 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 04:02 PM Alison, I have read one or two of Jane Langston's mysteries. Didn't she have one set in Concord? The story of the will and the court orders necessary for cleaning the artwork is priceless. There should be a book in that particular lady's life. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (17 of 50), Read 59 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: JoAnn Beach (quappelle@aol.com) Date: Friday, March 10, 2000 09:31 PM Alison wrote:" Isabella was a bit - uh - unusual. Her will specified that no paintings could be moved or removed. It has taken court orders to send paintings and tapestries to be repaired/restored. There are some who believe that the theft itself broke the terms of Isabella's will and should force the closure of the museum and the auctioning off of all its treasures." (By the way, I love to do research.....and have done some below.....so skip over the rest of this if you like...) Isabella's will sounds like that of Dr. Albert Barnes of Philadelphia, whose world-famous collection resides in a museum ---which was never meant to be as busy as it is, on a residential street. From a website I found: "The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of early French modern and post-impressionist paintings in the entire world. An extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir (180), Cezanne (69), and Matisse (60), provide a depth of work by these artists unavailable elsewhere. The collection includes works by Picasso, Seurat, Rousseau, Modigliani, Soutine, Monet, Manet, Degas and others Yet that is only part of this incredible collection. Art from every corner of the globe is grouped with fine examples of antique furniture, ceramics, hand-wrought iron, and Native American jewelry. Breathtaking, priceless examples of art in all forms adorn these walls, but The Barnes Foundation is much more than an art collection. It is the vibrant reflection of a life inspired by humanity and creative expression." http://www.redlandsfortnightly.com/barnes.htm http://www.capitalresearch.org/ap/ap-1195a.html ---->>> this is background and information about how Barnes wanted the gallery run after his death....most of the provisions of his will have been violated. http://www.libertynet.org/phila-visitor/art/b-man.html Looking at Amazon, I see that there is a book about Gardner called The Art of the Scandal by Douglass Shand-Tucci which did not get very favorable reviews. An older biography called Mrs. Jack, by Louise Hall Tharp, which is out of print, seems to be favored by people who reviewed The Art of the Scandal. Here is a link to a site with interesting information: http://www.boston.com/gardner/personal.htm http://www.boston.com/gardner/history.htm http://www.boston.com/gardner/mytharticle.htm http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/arttheft/bosto
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (18 of 50), Read 69 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 02:01 AM This museum sounds like the Victoria and Albert in London, one of my favorites. I'm certainly not defending the thieves, but did they really deprive the world of this art any more than if a very wealthy collector had bought it and hidden it away? Yet I doubt very many would tsk, tsk about that, and in fact most would take umbrage if such a wealthy collector were forced to share his art with the public. So, if you buy it, it's property to do with as you please; if you steal it, you are depriving the world of something it has a right to view? Did Isabella permit the public view her enormous collection while she was still alive? Theresa
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (19 of 50), Read 78 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 07:07 AM Very interesting viewpoint, Theresa. Remind me to hire you if I ever get arrested for stealing something. Sherry
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (20 of 50), Read 75 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 10:05 AM One interesting bit of trivia and an aside re GIRL.... One of the things I wondered at was the regular imbibing of beer at meals by the adolescent Griet and the Vermeer children. This was solved for me when I read the recently published TULIPOMANIA. Because of the poor and often disease ridden water quality at that time, beer was the drink of choice. It came in two strengths, one mildy and almost non- alcoholic for everyday consumption and the other for serious drunk making. Also of note: GIRL arrived on the "Times" bestseller list today at number twelve. I think the success of this small and lovely work is one of the most heartening publishing success stories of recent years. Let's raise an alcoholic pint (or two) to Tracy Chevalier! BOB
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (21 of 50), Read 78 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 11:43 AM Sherry, I will only defend you if you steal ART from a WEALTHY person who is keeping it all to themselves; and only if your purpose is to SHARE this ART with the world. And I'm not saying this is ALL RIGHT, I'm just saying I will defend you. Otherwise, you're on your own (but talk to Steve . . .) Theresa
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (22 of 50), Read 74 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 12:16 PM Theresa, well, if a collector buys something legitimately at least we know where it is. And museum directors do, too, so they can solicit the collector to leave it with them on long term loan (many do) and/or leave it to the museum in their will (many do that, too). And even if it's in collector's bedroom it's usually available to be photographed. Ruth
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (23 of 50), Read 74 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@slip.net) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 12:37 PM From Ruth's 3/10 post: The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been. Just imagine your slightly odd great-great grandmother who collected bric-a-brac and whatnots to fill her house and attic to overflowing. Now reincarnate her as very, very, verrrrrrrrry rich. Besides being cram-jock with all kinds of great art,the place is a hoot, simply for its incredible mishmash of suits of armor, stained glass, hunks of stone carving, marble doohickeys, brass thingamajigs, carved furniture.... ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I've been there and this is a perfect description of the Gardner museum. Especially, "marble doohickeys, brass thingamajigs". I've also been to the Barnes Foundation, now open to the public, once only open to "approved" art people - students and worshippers. IMHO, the collection is over rated, but perhaps I would think differently if the works were less jammed together, side by side and top to bottom, in a LOOK WHAT I'VE GOT manner. The Foundation is in what once was an elegant suburb - an "estated" area. I am sure that Mr. Barnes' now neighbors are furious about the traffic in their sylvan dale. I would be if I ever achieved such a state. Pres
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (24 of 50), Read 75 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 12:41 PM I think they did a travelling show of at least part of the Barnes Collection a while back. It stopped at the National Gallery and I had the chance to see it. It might not be the greatest collection in the world, but it was mighty refreshing to see a group of first-class impressionist paintings that hadn't been reproduced to death. Before that show, I was unaware that Cezanne had done any, let alone several, still lifes with skulls. Bea
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (25 of 50), Read 77 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beatrice Soila (bpsoila@aol.com) Date: Saturday, March 11, 2000 12:38 PM Does anybody remember the time that Japanese "art lover"/collector said he was going to put the Van Gogh he owned on his funeral pyre? I don't know if he actually did it or not. I remember thinking he should sell the painting and burn the money. Bea
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (26 of 50), Read 71 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 03:26 PM Yes, the Barnes did have a travelling show. It's what they did with the art whilst cleaning house, but it met with great resistance and controversy among the board members. Like the Gardner, the Barnes operates under the conditions of a restrictive will. I never heard of the Burn-the-Van-Gogh guy, but I loved your comment about burning the $$ instead. Ruth
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (27 of 50), Read 71 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 03:37 PM What a lot of interesting posts about the pros and cons of art theft! Since the Gardner collection pieces stolen in the big heist have apparently never been shown or acknowledged by their illicit possessor(s), I would have to say that the theft was a crime against humanity in general. The idea that the thieves were striking a blow against oppressive, rich collectors (probably they raised a clenched fist salute as they "liberated" the Vermeer, etal, from the elitist milieu of the Gardner) does not appeal to me. Having now finished the book, what does seem appropriate to me is that the Vermeer stolen was commissioned by a thoroughly venal and corrupt Netherlandish capitalist, who appeared in the painting with his back turned because he was ignorant of the correct way to hold a lute. (this interpretation depends on the accuracy of Tracy Chevalier's reconstruction of the identity and character of the patron.) Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (28 of 50), Read 74 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 04:25 PM I enjoyed this book a great deal. I found especially interesting the treatment of the question of artistic responsibility. Is the artist responsible to social and moral concerns while creating works of art? At one point in the book, van Leeuwenhoek warns Griet against the essentially amoral artistic sensibility of Vermeer. Vermeer's eyes are worth gold, his friend says, but Griet must watch that she does not lose herself in Vermeer's creations. Vermeer's actions at the end of Griet's stay with his family demonstrate the validity of van Leewuwenhoek's warning. Griet must also come to terms with the limited outlet for her own artistic facets in seventeenth-century Holland. The social structure would not allow a woman, especially a woman of the servant class, to aspire to artistic expression. Griet may contribute valuable input to Vermeer's paintings, but she remains outside the world he (or any artist) creates. In regard to the connection (if any) between artistic worth and social and personal values, I am reminded of my favorite Faulkner story. Faulkner, a cyclical drunk, began to slide into one of his benders the week before his only child, Jill, was to have her "sweet sixteen" birthday party. As the child of unconventional parents in a decidely conventional town, Oxford, MS, Jill was depending on this party to enhance her social stauts. Jill approached the Great Man several days before her party was to be held. If Faulkner continued in his pattern, nobody would have time that weekend to deal with the party. Everything stopped for "Mr. Bill" while he was drunk. Jill timidly asked her father if he could hold off total alcoholic collapse until after her party. Faulkner's response, delivered with a basilik stare, was: "Nobody remembers Shakespeare's daughters." Nice guy. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (29 of 50), Read 80 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 04:40 PM Now, now. I didn't mean to imply that I thought these thieves were Robin Hoods of the art world. What I was trying to address was whether there was any qualitative difference between a painting hidden away by a wealthy collector, and a painting stolen and hence unavailable to the public, FROM THE POINT OF VIEW of public access to the art. I think Ruth understood me, and addressed the issue (you go, girl!) What about artistic treasures smuggled out of third world countries by admirers from a wealthier world? Should there be restrictions on such (well, there are, though very difficult to enforce.) What about the argument that this serves to preserve the art, which might otherwise have been destroyed (e.g., Elgin Marbles, though I would say this was historical happenstance, as they could very easily have been destroyed by a German bomb during WWII, and then the Brits wouldn't be able to rely on this particular justification.) Versus the right of a group to retain artifacts which reflect their own cultural heritage. The San Francisco art museum I worked for briefly worked out what I thought was a good compromise over ownership of some beatiful, ancient Mexcian murals, which they received through a will. SF got to display the murals first (along with artifacts lent by Mexican museums, and it was a great exhibit); I think they settled on joint ownership, but the murals were to reside in Mexico. In case you can't tell, I'm very interested in this issue. In fact, I wrote my note on the topic when I was in law school. Theresa
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (30 of 50), Read 85 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 04:58 PM "artistic treasures smuggled out of third world countries by admirers from a wealthier world?" I used to use this very issue to foment discussion when I was teaching art history, Theresa. I used the Elgin marbles as a springboard and tried to get the students arguing amongst themselves, then I followed it up with an essay question on the next exam. I didn't care which side of the issue they took, as long as it was well-argued. And to this day, damned if I know the answer to the question. Ruth
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (31 of 50), Read 83 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 05:16 PM I would certainly take umbrage if a collector who legally owned a work of art kept it out of public view. The nature of a painting, sculpture or other physical artistic object is to be vulnerable to sequestration, legal or otherwise. The moral question certainly obtains whether or not the "collector" has legal title. Looking at the reproduction of the GWAPE on the dust jacket, with its cracked surface, raises the question of what to do to preserve such treaures, subject to physical as well as legal removal from the public. Someday all of Vermeer's works (as well as all other paintings) will decay beyond restoration, and only prints will remain. Having seen the difference between the original and the reproduction (alas, only occasionally, so few museums in my corner of the world), I am grateful that some artistry, such as literature, is independent of physical decay. Of course, there will come a time when the English language changes enough that only a few scholars will be able to appreciate the poetry of Shakespeare. But at least at no point will collectors or thieves be able to keep his works from us until then. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (32 of 50), Read 78 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: JoAnn Beach (quappelle@aol.com) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 06:51 PM Yes, Pres, there is a constant hue and cry by the neighbors of the Barnes Foundation. Traffic is awful in that area...never meant for the kind of commerce that occurs there now. And, yes, there was a traveling show of some of Barnes' collection a while ago--to raise money to do some refurbishing, I believe. Some of the trustees threatened to go to court over the exhibit. We went to a traveling Cezanne show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art about 3 years ago, an "important" show, with people coming from all over the country. The odd thing was that the Barnes foundation has more pieces by Cezanne than were in this show! Barnes sure was one odd duck...he and Isabella would have made quite a pair. I think it is sad when a private collector owns a beautiful piece of art that the world never sees, but that is the name of the game of ownership, I'm afraid. Does one have a moral or ethical responsibility to publicly show something that s/he owns just because it is considered art? JoAnn.
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (33 of 50), Read 80 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Alison Cohen (alisonc995@aol.com) Date: Sunday, March 12, 2000 09:04 PM Isabella Stewart Gardner built Fenway Court specifically to house her collection and to be open to the public. She had her own private quarters on the fourth floor -- which remain off limits to the general public. It seems she turned her attention to art collecting after the death of her only child. She certainly had the money to indulge her passion and relatively little scruple about removing the treasures from the countries of origin. If you are curious enough to push aside the little curtains on the bookcases, you just might catch sight of a first edition of Dante's Inferno. As for her tchotchkes -- would that we all had enough of an estate to afford just one. Alison
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (34 of 50), Read 50 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Karen Mikhail (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Monday, March 13, 2000 10:51 AM I read this book in two sittings on Saturday. It was fantastic! I also love the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It is only a block from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, so it would be possible to visit both if anyone is so inclined. The MFA is going to have a special exhibit during the time everyone is going to be here. It is an exhibit called Van Gogh Face to Face and is all portraits by Van Gogh. These special exhibits tend to sell out for weekends, so I'll let you know when the tickets go on sale to the public (I don't think they are available until May). As a member, I get a free ticket and will probably go see the exhibit during the members only viewing in July, so I'll give you a preview of the exhibit also. Another special thing about the MFA is the murals by John Singer Sargent which are painted on the ceiling. Karen
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (35 of 50), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2000 09:43 PM greetings to all... who have made my mouth water...in wanting to obtain the book and attend the museum in BOSTON.. tu tu KAREN...i would definitely want to secure a ticket in advance.... such treasure in BOSTON...need to get there early to soak it all in.. a thousand thanks for all the information... JOANN and all. gail..a passionate reader anticipating BOSTON for the first time... and then on to QUEBEC CITY.....BOSTON OR BUST!! 2000!
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (36 of 50), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Karen Mikhail (kmbookworm@hotmail.com) Date: Friday, March 17, 2000 10:26 AM My in person book club chose GWAPE as the selection for next month. (Does anyone else picture Elmer Fudd trying to say 'grape' when they see that acronym)? Today is the 10th anniversary of the theft of the paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. When I visited the library this week, I ran into The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Garnder by Douglass Shand-Tucci. I did check it out, but haven't started reading it yet (I'm desparately trying to finish Great Expectations and Jack Maggs). Here's the Amazon.com reveiw: "For decades Isabella Stewart Gardner has been described variously as a Brahmin eccentric, a patron of the arts, a footnote to Henry James's career, and the woman who founded a small, but elegant museum in Boston, Massachusetts. But Douglas Shand-Tucci, in The Art of Scandal, gives readers a new portrait of Gardner that vibrantly brings her and her world to life. There have been other biographies of Gardner, but Shand-Tucci's is distinctive because he positions Gardner as the center of a late 19th-century cultural world--including Henry James, Elsie De Wolfe, and John Singer Sargent--that formed the beginnings of what we now understand to be an emerging gay male identity and sensibility. As such, The Art of Scandal is a major contribution to gay history as well as an important biography of an often misunderstood and underappreciated cultural figure." Karen
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (37 of 50), Read 51 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Friday, March 17, 2000 04:24 PM Karen -- I think your GWAPE acronym for this one is definitely reminiscent of Fudd but technically the acronym would be GWTPE wouldn't it? Dottie -- thinking of the carrots in the fridge and nice juicy grapes and Bugs Bunny -- hmmm -- perhaps I have a menu forming here? ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (38 of 50), Read 57 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) Date: Friday, March 17, 2000 06:20 PM { but technically the acronym would be GWTPE wouldn't it? } No, it wouldn't. It's "a." BOB
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (39 of 50), Read 55 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 03:37 AM My sincere apologies to Karen if I caused her any offense with my response to her post. In rereading this entire thread -- I see where the title has been "A" and "the" back and forth and no one has ever corrected anyone previously nor -- obviously -- has anyone corrected the title in the Topic line. My remark was simply based on the assumption that the correct word was in the Topic line. If this has been really troubling you, Bob, you should have drawn attention to it much sooner! We try to have title correct in the Topic lines -- truly we do! Dottie -- with the "my mistake, your error" quip running through her brain ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (40 of 50), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Felix Miller (felix3rd@cdc.net) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 07:39 AM As to the earring, definite or indefinite article, the really interesting point is the insistence by Vermeer on having Griet wear two earrings, even though only one shows in the painting. Of course, this is a novel, nobody ever got Vermeer's take on this subject. I think it is Chevalier's interpretation of the artistic sensibility. In order to paint one earring, Vermeer has to know that the other one is there. A bit hard on Griet, having to pierce a second ear on the spot, but van Leeuwenhoek does warn her about Vermeer. He only sees the painting, not the person. Regards from the valley, Felix Miller I thought I had life solved. But there was a flag on the play. -Charles M. Schulz
Topic: Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Isabella Gardner Museum/Art Thieves/Does the Public Own Art? (41 of 50), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 07:44 AM Vermeer sounds intriguing all right! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (42 of 50), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sherry Keller (shkell@earthlink.net) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 07:55 AM Or at least Chevalier's take on Vermeer sounds interesting. I suppose it was my mistake up in the topic line. Sorry folks. Shouldn't type from (bad) memory. Sherry
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (43 of 50), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 09:01 AM Being as I hadn't posted in the thread, Dottie, it would have been a tad obnoxious to do so for the sole purpose of correcting what has been a common mistake. There are plenty of legitimate things I prefer to save "obnoxious" for. Bob
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (44 of 50), Read 62 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Ann Davey (davey@tconl.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 10:57 AM Huh?
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (45 of 50), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: JoAnn Beach (quappelle@aol.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 12:41 PM The only book I see at Amazon that is about Vermeer himself, and not just a critique of his paintings, is called Vermeer and his Milieu: A Web of Social History by John Michael Montias. I think this would be a great follow-up to Girl With a Pearl Earring. Book Description from Amazon: This book is not only a fascinating biography of one of the greatest painters of the seventeenth century but also a social history of the colorful extended family to which he belonged and of the town life of the period. It explores a series of distinct worlds: Delft's Small-Cattle Market, where Vermeer's paternal family settled early in the century; the milieu of shady businessmen in Amsterdam that recruited Vermeer's grandfather to counterfeit coins; the artists, military contractors, and Protestant burghers who frequented the inn of Vermeer's father in Delft's Great Market Square; and the quiet, distinguished "Papists Corner" in which Vermeer, after marrying into a high-born Catholic family, retired to practice his art, while retaining ties with wealthy Protestant patrons. The relationship of Vermeer to his principal patron is one of many original discoveries in the book. JOANN (can you tell that I am buying books online today?)
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (46 of 50), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 01:01 PM Bob said --QUOTE!!!!!: 'Being as I hadn't posted in the thread, Dottie, it would have been a tad obnoxious to do so for the sole purpose of correcting what had been a common mistake. There are plenty of legitimate things I prefer to save "obnoxious" for." FUNNY -- but if you hadn't posted PREVIOUSLY then your post to me concerning the fact that I had a miscue in my reply to Karen seems to me to have been made SOLELY for the purpose of telling me that I was in error and thus pointing out the error in general for whatever reason -- regardless of how much you may be saving up "obnoxious" for!!! Just making an observation on th fine points of defined obnoxiousness here. Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (47 of 50), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 02:56 PM >FUNNY -- but if you hadn't posted PREVIOUSLY then your post to me concerning the fact that I had a miscue in my reply to Karen seems to me to have been made SOLELY for the purpose of telling me that I was in error Au contaire, Dot, I was telling you that your witty Fuddism, GWAPE, was correct. BOB, who always ac-cen-chu-ates the positive.
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (48 of 50), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 06:15 PM Except for one thing, Bob, I was telling Karen whose witty Fuddism GWAPW 'weally' was that it should be GWTPE and you pointed out that I was incorrect because it really was GWAPE. SO-OOOOO -- how about you really do ac - cen - chu -ate the positive here and call a truce? Dottie -- who felt bad calling you on this one - except that I DO step out of the Goody Two Shoes persona when I need to do so! ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (49 of 50), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Bob Markiewicz (bob markiewicz@aol.com) Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 07:11 PM If you tell a woman she's right and the woman tells you (naturally) you're wrong, is the woman still right, or does that make her wrong? BOB, who will feel better when his pizza arrives
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (50 of 50), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Sunday, March 19, 2000 06:33 AM Hey, Bob -- why worry? Enjoy your pizza! And read a good book! Dottie ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (51 of 51), Read 6 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Sunday, March 26, 2000 11:47 PM greetings to all in our UNIQUE COMMUNITY OF CR'S.. TONYA.. i found it and tons of thanks for the email:-)) you are a gem!!! GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING .. .this book is a LIFE INTERRUPTER...from the inception you were transported to another era and the intensity of the characters kept me reeling and i could not wait to read...i am sure many of you could finish the book in one day.. i took two days.... i love to walk around and think about the characters..... how HIGH I AM... nothing like a fine writer...goood story......tu tu..!!!and all the excellent posts .. ..those museums in BOSTON have my mouth watering.... again.. tu for this TREASURE!!! . gail..a passionate reader off to read DAUGHTER OF THE RIVER...hong ying.. THE ORCHID THEIF.. susan orlean.. and BETWEEN FATHER AND SON...v.s.naipaul... YOU DON'THAVE TO READ EVERYDAY, just on those days that you eat!!
 

 
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