When I look at 'Girl With the Pearl Earring', or any other work of art for that matter, I think about my emotional response & what the participants may have been thinking in a moment in time. The painting was created 300 years ago. Folks have had a lot of time to surmise who the girl was or how he painted her. Here's just a few of the comments made about the painting:
"The image is a tronie, the Dutch 17th-century description of a ‘head’ that was not meant to be a portrait. After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994, the subtle color scheme and the intimacy of the girl’s gaze toward the viewer have been greatly enhanced."
"Each generation perceives and describes the impressions gained from Vermeer’s works based on the intellectual baggage and the reception they master..... His (Vermeer's) low output was rather caused by the need for a long mental process before he was satisfied with the image. He needed a long period of maturing his works in order to reach an acceptance of having reached the final and aesthetically pleasant accomplishment. As many authors in the past have observed, Vermeer in many paintings deleted earlier rendered elements from his interiors. In lectures, I have shown digital reconstructions of how crammed some of his paintings may have been at earlier stages in their making." Jørgen Wadum (Head of 'Girl With Pearl Earring' Restoration project)