TED Blog

Girl with the Pearl Earring

Tracy Chevalier, the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999), first saw the Johannes Vermeer painting that inspired her novel when she was 19-years-old. Struck by the colors, as well as the expression on said girl’s face, Chevalier stood in front of the painting for hours and bought a poster of it on her way out. It still hangs in her home 30 years later.

In a talk given at TEDSalon, Chevalier explains how she approaches museum-going — by breezing through galleries until a painting catches her eye and her storytelling instinct.  Then, she stands before it, imagining what might have happened as the painter smudged acrylic onto canvas. It was this process that led Chevalier to write her best-selling book.

“We are wired to tell stories,” says Chevalier in her talk, in which she describes two other paintings that also set her brain ablaze with stories…

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