The Girl in the Spotlight:
A technical examination of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring with Abbie Vandivere

MacCorry B201, Queen's University
3 November 2022
5:30–6:30 pm

This lecture is co-presented with Agnes and the Department of Art History and Art Conservation at Queen’s University.

In this lecture, Abbie Vandivere discusses the recent technical examination of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665). This is the most beloved painting in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague, The Netherlands. It was last examined in 1994, during a conservation treatment. Although further restoration is not yet required, major advances in non-invasive technical analysis have been made over the last 25 years. The Mauritshuis wanted to learn more about how Vermeer painted the Girl with a Pearl Earring, as well as the materials that he used.

In 2018, the painting was the subject of an in-depth scientific examination project: The Girl in the Spotlight. The technical examination was conducted over a 2-week period in front of the museum public. An international team of experts used the latest scientific technology to examine the Girl, including: macro x-ray fluorescence scanning, near-infrared imaging, optical coherence tomography, 3D digital microscopy, macro-X-ray powder diffraction, colour/gloss/topography scanning, and the re-examination of paint samples taken 1994.

In this presentation, Abbie explains some of the technologies that were used to examine the Girl, as well as the fascinating results from this technical investigation. We especially encourage students in Art History and Art Conservation to attend.

Dr Abbie Vandivere is a Paintings Conservator at the Mauritshuis, and the Head Researcher for the project The Girl in the Spotlight. She also coordinates the Technical Art History MA programme at the University of Amsterdam. She received her PhD in 2013: ‘From the Ground Up: Surface and Sub-surface effects in Early Netherlandish Paintings.’ Before this, she received her postgraduate diploma in Paintings Conservation from the Courtauld Institute in London, and BA from Princeton University.

The research project The Girl in the Spotlight is a Mauritshuis initiative, with a team of internationally recognised specialists working within the collaborative framework of the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS), including Rijksmuseum, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE). Other institutions involved include: Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam (STCA), Maastricht University, University of Antwerp, the National Gallery of Art Washington and Hirox Europe. This project was made possible with support from the Johan Maurits Compagnie Foundation.

This lecture is co-presented with Agnes and the Department of Art History and Art Conservation at Queen’s University.

Image Credits

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