Filipina engineer’s artwork gets displayed in a museum in The Netherlands

“Babaeng nakaperlas” was picked among over 3,000 entries worldwide

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

A Hague-based Filipina engineer’s interpretation of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is one of the 170 artworks selected by the Mauritshuis Museum until June 4, 2023.

The museum announced early 2023 for creatives around the world to reinterpret the famous painting and received 3,500 entries

“My hopes were not that high, I simply loved the process of recreating a Vermeer,” said Maria Glensie Hombrebueno, 32, and a full-time engineer from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, who migrated to the Netherlands in 2019, in a interview.

“It has been a good while since I last painted a portrait, so I got a little inspired one weekend and decided to sketch out my ‘girl’. Next thing I knew, I was happily painting a few hours every day for about two weeks,” said the Hague-based artist.

Hombrebueno’s “Babaeng nakaperlas” (Girl with a pearl) was one of 170 artworks selected by the museum and will be displayed every week until June 4.

Five entries in print are also being displayed on their allotted week beside the digital frame in the Vermeer room of the museum.

The Mauritshuis is located in the centre of The Hague, the historical and political heart of the Netherlands, its website states.

“A small world-class museum with a formidable collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century; the golden age of this type of art. The museum consists of two striking historical buildings: the Mauritshuis, a city palace on the Plein in The Hague and the Prince William V Gallery at the Buitenhof. In the Mauritshuis, you’ll discover iconic masterpieces, such as the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and the Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world to our museum every year,” it added.

Johannes Vermeer is one of the most famous Dutch painters of the 17th century and was famous for his intimate household scenes with amazing light. In his famous works, such as the Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of the Delft, he managed to create a calm, almost timeless atmosphere.

The engineer said she wasn’t even aware of the criteria when she started her painting of a dusky-skinned “girl” and didn’t use a real model but she slowly realized that her work had some resemblance to a late aunt.

 However, she admitted that she grew up in an artistic family and started exploring her talent at four years old.

She recalled that her grandmother spoiled her with all the art materials she had asked for.

Although father also taught her the basics of drawing and sketching portraits, she said her watercolor painting was self taught in 2015.

Being in the Netherlands made her go back to her love for art.

“Being here in the Netherlands, home to a number of modern artists and the masters Rembrandt and Vermeer, I feel people connected to my art very well and I to them. I feel appreciated and encouraged,” Hombrebueno told Rappler.

Living in Europe made works of the masters like Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Vermeer more accessible.

“Having seen them in person shaped the way I compose my artworks. Not that I copy their styles, but it inspired me to make my own. The more works I see from all over the world, the more I realize the possibilities in art are endless,” she added.

Getting noticed by a world-class museum has encouraged Hombrebueno to develop her art, “although I have a rather demanding job so that I can only paint on weekends or sometimes not at all.”

Aside from the portraits and animal paintings she does, Hombrebueno now wants to explore floral art.

“But that’s for later when I could finally take some time off and paint,” she said.

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