I have always loved The Girl With The Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer (circa 1665), ever since I first saw her on the -- you're gonna laugh -- back cover of a Reader's Digest when I was around ten or so. I love the play of light in the portrait, for one. Also, there is something mysterious about her. She has a quiet beauty, and a naivete, but also something lurking behind her eyes or in the set of her mouth that seems to be a playful invitation. Or maybe I'm just being a creepy old man again.
I thought of her today, because I stumbled across a later portrait of a Choktaw native, which may have been inspired by this piece:
Choktaw Belle was painted in 1850 by Philip Romer. It is a truly striking image, portraying this young woman with a soft sensitivity that isn't always common for portraits of aboriginal peoples at the time (I am speaking from a Canadian context, however. It should be noted that the Choktaw are from the Alabama/Louisiana region). The lighting is warm, with the attention given to the hue and texture of her skin being almost inappropriate. The set of her head, the earring, and even the lighting are all reminiscent of The Girl With The Pearl Earring. Or maybe I'm just nuts. Who knows?
Anyway, bit of art to start off your day. I'm off to hit the long and dusty, to work in the big and dusty. Its so awesome to have a job I'm actually EXCITED to go to again.