Pearls: Katura Design Inspired by Vermeer’s ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’

New Girl With a Pearl

The “Girl With a Pearl Earring” painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer has inspired many, ­including Lee Wiser McIntosh. The Atlanta-based ­jewelry maker and founder of Katura Design is such a fan that she recently commissioned a ­photographer to shoot a series of portraits that take a page from the haunting masterpiece.

“Vermeer’s painting has long lingered in my mind: the glance, the composition, the lighting, and the singular pearl earring,” says McIntosh. 

While the designer didn’t want to replicate the painting exactly, she strived to answer the question “How might that painting have appeared had Vermeer had access to the pearls we have today?”

A girl with a pearl earring by Katura Design

She hired Atlanta-based photographer Steve Pelosi, along with pros for hair and makeup. When it came to casting, McIntosh, who worked in film production for years, chose real people—not models. “I think using real people makes the images resonate with the audience,” she explains.

McIntosh personally styled the models, limiting herself “to a tight palette of scarves” that she draped around each woman’s shoulders. The resulting images reflect the painting’s composition and intensity beautifully by depicting women in the “girl” pose in loose translations of Vermeer’s work.

The images also live on the brand’s website, which offers direct sales. McIntosh can—upon request—come close to re-creating any of the looks in the Vermeer-inspired photos.

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