Speaking of 'Girl With a Pearl Earing' ...

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Speaking of 'Girl With a Pearl Earing' ...

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005


Indeed there is no evidence that Vermeer ever owned or used any camera obscura in the execution of his work. His studio was inventoried immediately after his death, and no such device was mentioned in the inventory. Nor are there any contemporary accounts mentioning anything that would indicate that Vermeer ever used anything of the sort. There is much conjecture by scholars, who make a big deal out of a few diffused highlights in one or two of his paintings and construe on that basis that they are onto something. These people ignore any evidence and reasoning that contradicts their theory, and there is more that contradicts it than supports it.

People's self-esteem is bolstered by notions that high achievement by others is attributable, to some degree at least, to something other than actual superiority to them. This, I believe, is what is behind the popular acceptance of these optical-device theories.