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Girl With a Pearl Earring Art Activity: Children Explore Johannes Vermeer’s Masterpiece

Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring has inspired novels and movies. She is even known as the Mona Lisa of Northern Europe, because she is so famous. Encourage kids to explore Vermeer’s masterpiece with the following art activity.

Materials Needed for Girl With a Pearl Earring Art Activity

An image of Vermeer’s painting as well as art supplies and costumes are all that’s needed for the art activity.

  • Color image of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (preferably an art print, though a color digital image or computer print out will work, too. The larger the image, the better.)
  • One large piece of paper per child
  • Brightly colored markers or crayons, or other media
  • Dress up clothing such as hats, capes, and jewelry of bright colors

Directions for Girl With a Pearl Earring Art Activity

Present Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring image to child or a group of children. Instruct the kids to take some time looking at the painting carefully.

Ask children the following questions about the painting, giving each child time to respond. Don’t rush the questions, but let the group have time to discuss and interact with each one.

  • “Who is the person in the picture?”
  • “What do you notice about her? “
  • “Would you want to dress like her-why or why not?”

After the group has explored the portrait for themselves, share with them the following:

“This painting is called Girl With a Pearl Earring. Johannes Vermeer painted it around 1665. No one knows who this girl is or why Vermeer chose to paint her. Women in Holland, where Vermeer lived, did not normally dress this way. Vermeer dressed her up like a woman from Turkey to make the painting more interesting.”

Ask the children to point out how Vermeer dressed the girl up to look as though she is from Turkey. Point out the turban and pearl earring to them if they do not notice them.

Next invite the kids to choose a character they would like to be and find accessories from the dress up box to get into character.

Distribute paper and coloring media to each child. Instruct the children to pair up and draw and color each other in costume for their own versions of Girl with a Pearl Earring.

When each child is finished, encourage him or her to share the painting with the group.

Ask each character who he or she desired to be, just as Vermeer’s Dutch girl became a Turkish lady.

With some thought and creativity, kids can dress up and have fun with painting, just as Johannes Vermeer did with his Girl With a Pearl Earring.

See Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring at the Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis Online

Vermeer’s original Girl With a Pearl Earring is owned by the Royal Picture Gallery of Holland. Though children may be unable to travel to Holland to see the real painting, they can view Girl with a Pearl Earring, as well as other masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer, online at the website of the Royal Picture Gallery of Holland.

For another educational art activity based on a famous masterpiece, the Mona Lisa Art Activity may be of interest. To explore an Impressionist master with a child, the Starry Night Art Activity may be enjoyed also