Eli Whitney Museum

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2014 Summer Program

In Holland 350 years ago, Johannes Vermeer painted the portrait Girl with a Pearl Earring. Vermeer won little fame or wealth in his lifetime.

In the last 10 years, a novel and movie have explored the mystery in that painting. Art historians have argued passionately over the tools and technique that let Vermeer capture detail in perfect light. Inventor Tim Jenison has filmed a new documentary to propose that Vermeer worked tricks with mirrors. Timothy Brook has spotted the whole world of Dutch trade in Vermeer’s careful compositions. Paintings which can provoke passionate debate 10 generations after their creation show the living power of art.

See what all the fuss is about. Construct the tools of seeing that the Dutch lens makers had perfected: a camera obscura and camera lucida. Learn to guide your hand with them. Grind and apply pigments from India and Afghanistan that show the reach of Dutch Trade (which, by the way, reached Connecticut at that time). Paint an intimate portrait of your world. Imagine who will admire it 350 years from now.

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