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

Speaker: Dr. Abbie Vandivere - Mauritshuis

Abbie Vandivere will give a lecture about 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.

Earlier this year, 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-xray powder diffraction, colour/gloss/topography scanning, and the re-examination of paint samples taken 1994.

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.

Organised by Dr Pia Gottschaller (Courtauld Institute of Art)

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

25 Feb - 6 Jun 2023

25 Feb - 6 Jun 2023

Monday 25th February 2019

Free, but booking essential

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square, London, WC1X 9EW