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LOOK: Classic 17th-Century Paintings Reimagined by a Photographer and His 5-Year-Old Daughter

Bill Gekas

A different girl with a pearl earring

Photographer Bill Gekas has a thing for artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and others from that golden era of painting. His thing is so strong, in fact, that he’s created a series of photos recreating the look and feel of the great artists’ work — using his 5-year-old daughter as his model.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Gekas replicates the lighting style that mimic the paintings of the Dutch, Flemish and Italian 17th-century masters.

“The so-called Rembrandt lighting is characterised by strong window light falling on one side of the subject’s face and body, producing shadows amid a rich glow,” Terry Lane writes.

On the site MyModernMetropolis.com, Gekas says of his unique style that he’s not “scared of taking certain elements from different works and molding them into something to call your own. You might like the lighting from a photo you saw somewhere, a prop from another photo, colors from another. The key is not to limit yourself with the excuse, ‘It’s all been done before.'”

For this series, Gekas’ 5-year-old daughter is dressed in period-appropriate attire and placed in settings that could well be a few hundred years old.

The effect of the portraits is stunning (not to mention seriously fun, too).
Take a look:


  • Potatoes 1 of 15
    Bill Gekas said this portrait was inspired by "The Potato Eaters" by Vincent Van Gogh, "but is very different in that I've given it a more Vermeer aesthetic being a girl doing a chore near a window."
  • Girl Without an Earring 2 of 15
    Girl Without an Earring
    Inspired by Johannes Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring."
  • Pleiadian 3 of 15
    Gekas says he "recreates the overall ethereal aesthetic and atmosphere that the masters were known for without trying to imitate any of their particular works."
  • Cameo 4 of 15
    His photos are remarkable because, as he says, "I sort of give them my own twist and story where I can."
  • Pears 5 of 15
    Gekas primarily cites Vermeer, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez as his primary source of inspiration for this particular series.
  • Rapunzel 6 of 15
    According to EssentialVermeer.com, "there may be no other country in which in the brief span of a hundred years, so many paintings were executed as during the 17th century in in Holland."
  • Field Day 7 of 15
    Field Day
    An estimated 5 million paintings were believed to have been produced between 1600 and 1700.
  • Athena Ballerina 8 of 15
    Athena Ballerina
    The National Gallery of Art in Washington calls the Dutch Golden Age "one of the world's greatest periods of creativity."
  • Doilies In Delft 9 of 15
    Doilies In Delft
    Subjects such as landscape, still life, and portraiture were dominant among artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer.
  • Birdcage 10 of 15
    Caravaggio is, according to Caravaggio Foundation, commonly placed in the Baroque school, of which he is considered the first great representative."
  • Oranges 11 of 15
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art asserts Velázquez is "the most admired—perhaps the greatest—European painter who ever lived, possess[ing] a miraculous gift for conveying a sense of truth."
  • Plums 12 of 15
    Velázquez "gave the best of his talents to painting portraits, which capture the appearance of reality through the seemingly effortless handling of sensuous paint."
  • Red Hat 13 of 15
    Red Hat
    Bill Gekas was born and lives in Melbourne, Australia.
  • Gypsied 14 of 15
    Gekas is a self-taught photographer who learned the technical aspect of photography by using a 35mm film slr camera in the mid-1990s and switched to digital in 2005.
  • Tea Maid 15 of 15
    Tea Maid
    Gekas says he's "practicing the art of photography and constantly refining" his style.

All photos used with permission from Bill Gekas

More from Meredith on Babble’s Mom blog:

Read (even) more from Meredith at Babble’s Toddler blog, follow her on Twitter, and check out her weekly column on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post at MeredithCarroll.com

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