A Girl and Her Pearl
A review of The Mauritshuis Museum with Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', The Hague Holland
Reading Time: 6 mins
As you step out of Den Haag Centraal Station it is immediately apparent that this beautiful Dutch City is home to one very special lady. As you walk down from the station and weave the streets you won’t need Google maps to find out where you’re going. The town is lined with banners and posters of the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and kindly they guide you down to The Mauritshuis Museum, where she is patiently awaiting your arrival.
Den Haag (The Hague) is Holland’s third largest city, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam. As you pace eagerly through the City take a moment to appreciate the wonderful shops and little gems along the way. I was particularly diverted by a sweet little crystal and mineral boutique down by the station. On approaching the museum it is worth looking out for the International Court of Justice, an arresting building which you can arrange to visit if you contact ahead of time. The Mauritshuis Museum is a completely charming piece of architecture in itself. You will have time to circle the building and you can gaze round the back and see how it appears to float on water! Before entering the painting rooms you will be encouraged to download the museum app on your phone. The app takes you from painting to painting and gives you an in detail explanation of each work. I have to say I found the content on the app incredibly engaging and I actually left it on my phone for a while after my visit, in order to read up about some of my favourite paintings.
Upon entering the galleries the first painting that hit me was a wonderfully exotic portrait of The Garden of Eden, complete with peacocks and lions as well as goats, rabbits and deer. There is a serpent hiding in the shadow of a tree and Adam and Eve are painted glowing beneath, sharing the one apple that is about the change the world. I can’t help but think of this as a sort of biblical Steve Jobs prequel. The paintwork is stunning and there are just so many different elements and details within the garden. One would be forgiven for trying to climb in through the frame to continue exploring. I steal myself away from the tempting serpent and his friends and glide happily into the next room which brings me face to face with yet another incredible work. ‘Appelles painting Campaspe’ is a gigantic painting of a room filled with tiny paintings! I actually was slightly stunned when I first laid eyes upon this work, the scale and quality in each tiny artwork is completely mesmerising and actually, almost unbelievable. I took myself very close to the picture and spent time admiring each little individual canvas. ‘Appelles painting Campaspe’ makes you feel as though for a moment, you have been transported into another little secret gallery. After admiring these two great works what became clear was that The Mauritshuis Museum is no ordinary painting gallery. Before one gets to Vermeer’s ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’, a magical journey of remarkable masterpieces awaits. As you continue on and up through the gallery you will notice that jewellery, and especially pearls, are a key feature in many of the paintings. This acts as the perfect foreplay ahead of the final event. One painting I found especially charming was ‘Kitchen Interiors’. The work depicts a grandiose swan sat on a 17th century kitchen table. As I look closer into the painting the swan starts to look more and more peculiar. After reading through my app I realise that actually what I am looking at is an incredibly decadent swan pie! The bird is dripping in decoration and what I love most is the large jewel dripping down from the beak. I stop to wonder whether this painting somehow foretold the Swarovski Swan.