A speculative account of the life of Griet, a 16-year-old girl who appears in Johannes Vermeer's painting of the same title. Set in 17th century Holland, Griet is employed by Vermeer as a housemaid to care for his six children, his jealous pregnant wife and his uncommunicative mother-in-law. Tensions arise when Vermeer's wife suspects intimacy between her husband and the girl--and then climax, when the wife discovers that Griet borrowed her precious pearl earrings to sit for the now famous portrait.