‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and ‘The Goldfinch’: Art, Literature, Film


Day course

Joanna Cobb

9 January 2021


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The course will look at how art has both featured in and inspired film.

Taking the two paintings as examples we will discuss the films themselves, the historical background to the events shown, additional information not depicted, and make comparisons between film stills and the works of art themselves. Considering the historical context of these works of art will be a key feature, and we will also look at art crime, a central theme in Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’. Central to this course are Johannes Vermeer and the lesser known Carel Fabritius, key artists in the Dutch ‘Golden Age’, both living and working in Delft. In focussing on their most celebrated paintings, around which the films are constructed, we will allow our gaze to venture beyond these to the cultural, social, political and economic worlds from which they emerged.

Comparisons will be made between art and film, and questions of historical accuracy in popular culture raised. A screening of ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ (2003, cert.12) follows in the afternoon.

Tutor information

Joanna is an independent art historian, researcher, lecturer, and retired history teacher with over 20 years’ experience up to A level and Oxbridge entrance. She holds a B.Ed. degree and an MA in History of Art with Distinction from Birkbeck, University of London, which included modules on the Northern and Venetian Renaissance, and 18th century British art. Subsequent research towards a PhD has centred on the 18th century London art world. Her article, ‘From Parrots to Princes: Exhibitions of Contemporary Stained Glass in Late Eighteenth-century London’. appeared in the online journal Vidimus, Issue 53, July/August 2011. In keeping with her support for lifelong learning in its fullest sense, she presents her independent series of art history lectures across a range of venues in Somerset and has also taught U3A groups in Glastonbury and Wells, as well lectured sixth formers, parents and teachers at Wells Cathedral School. Future projects include short courses for several branches of the WEA, a special presentation for the Western Front Association to coincide with commemorations of the Armistice in 1918, additional lectures at Wells Cathedral School and a collaboration with Wells Film Centre. Her art historical interests include patronage, display, spectatorship, the changing status of art and artists, and the roles and achievement of women as artists. Central to her approach is an understanding of the context in which works of art were produced and experienced, in order to allow the ‘bigger picture’ surrounding them to emerge and in so doing enrich and enlarge the encounter.

Covid information

Dillington House wishes to reassure everyone that we are working closely with Somerset County Council to ensure every measure is being taken to make Dillington House a safe place for everyone.

All course participants will be sent further guidance prior to the course date.

Dillington House is following Government guidelines and adhering to new guidance including local or national lockdowns.

All places booked can be transferred or refunded in the event this course is cancelled. Individuals who are affected by local lockdowns will be able to transfer to an alternative course. All other terms and conditions apply.