For the first time in the Southeast, the famous masterpiece, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” is now on display at the High Museum of Art in Midtown.
The painting, by Johannes Vemeer, is usually on display at the Mauritshuis, in The Hague, Netherlands, but is on a “World Tour,” said Kristen Delaney, the High’s director of marketing and museum advancement.
Prior to coming to Atlanta, the exhibit, “Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis,” visited Tokyo, San Francisco and will be traveling to New York after Atlanta.
“It’s so exciting on a couple of levels. The painting has not traveling to the U.S. in 17 years, and another 15 years before that,” she said. “It’s such an honor to house her and 34 of her best friends.”
The “best friends” include other paintings from Dutch Golden Age painters in the 17th century, including Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals and Jan Steen.
Delaney said four of the paintings are by Rembrandt.
“Everyone can relate to that specialness of that. We’ve only had one Rembrandt here in the past,” she said.
The exhibit is on tour only because its home museum is currently under renovation, Delaney said.
“They may never travel again, given the size and scope of the project.”
She said the captivation from the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” comes from its timelessness and mystery.
“The luminosity of her skin and the technique is so remarkable,” she said. “She’s trying to tell you something. … It looks like she’s leaping out of the painting.”
David Brenneman, director of collections and exhibitions, and managing curator for the exhibit, said he has been hoping to have “The Girl With the Pearl Earing” at the High since he started working there 18 years ago.
“Unlike many old master paintings that can seem distant and aloof, this is a painting that is very engaging,” he said. “You don’t need to know art history to stand in front of the painting and be captivated by her and engaged by her and her presence. The way she’s looking out really brings you in to her world.”
The exhibit was the number one art exhibit visited in the world while it was in Tokyo, Delaney said, with more than 10,000 visitors a day.
“My hope is that our community will be as welcoming as her,” she said. “This is truly one of the five most famous paintings in the world and it’s right here.”
If you go:
o When: Now through Sept. 29
o Where: The High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St., Midtown
o Tickets: $19.50 for adults, $12 for children and $16.50 for seniors
o Information: www.high.org