Art Imitating Art: 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'

A New Film Is Born of a Novel Inspired by Vermeer's Painting

Listen: <b>Web Extra</b>: Tracy Chevalier discusses writing books based on works of art.

Detail from Cover of 'Girl With a Pearl Earring'

hide captionDetail from cover of Tracy Chevalier's book 'Girl With a Pearl Earring'

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It's art imitating art imitating art.

The new film Girl with a Pearl Earring is based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier — a fictional account of the life of a young woman pictured in the famous Vermeer painting.

Chevalier, whose most recent book The Lady and the Unicorn is also based on a work of art (The Unicorn Tapestries), says she wrote Girl with a Pearl Earring after years of staring at a poster of the painting in her bedroom.

Now that the Chevalier book that was the Vermeer painting has become director Peter Webber's film — starring Scarlett Johanssen in the title role — NPR's Lynn Neary reports on what has been lost — and added — in the translation.

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