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Known as the ‘Mona Lisa of the North’ Johannes Vermeer’s 1665 painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” has been the source of inspiration for countless imitations, posters, films, and books. Yet for much of its lifetime the painting was an underrated curiosity. When the canvas entered the collection of the Mauritshuis gallery in The Hague in 1902 its dramatic journey truly begun. Unfortunately, following over two centuries of obscurity the painting arrived into the twentieth century in a very poor state of repair, and has suffered from a number of botched restorations ever since. Visible, trailing cracks trickle down the canvas like pulsing veins, lending the work a corporeal yet degenerated look. But it is the deep, intimate gaze of Vermeer’s girl that commands the viewer’s attention. An usual feature in the artist’s staggering body of work, the head and shoulders of the girl are cast against a dim, neutral background, almost utterly black, which provides a sharp contrast for the luminescence of her lips, eyes, and single earring. Settling her gaze on the viewer, one almost misses the anachronous feature of her flowing headdress. Made-up in the turban style, Vermeer’s anonymous figure would have been an arbiter of a provocative and youthful style. Painted at a time when the Ottoman Turks were frequently threatening the peace of Eastern and Central Europe, the wearing of a turban was a playfully exotic form of dress. While it is impossible to ascertain the artist’s intentions for the piece, it is possible that the painting could have been intended to be an allegoric meeting of East and West at a time when the struggle for the heart of Europe was still yet to be won.