Lately on Pinterest I've been studying details of classic portraits. For example take a close look at Nicolas de Largillière's Portrait of a Woman painted in 1749. I don't know about you but I get goosebumps looking at this kind of painting detail! The story starts with a single shiny dropped pearl. See the turquoise and green in there? So well painted. And think about it, they probably didn't have plastic pearls made in China back in the 1700's—these were no doubt the real deal.
Then zoom out a bit more... to see two more round pearls flanking the dropped one. Look closely at the shiny and bulbous cluster of pearls, the amazingly rich golden ribbon and beaded criss-crossed brocade on iridescent, creamy silver cloth, and the intricate, filagree lace. Isn't it all stunning?
Zoom out a bit more… mmm, now you see more of that beautiful fabric, and a hint of cinnabar colored silk fabric down on the lower right, which is reflected in the woman's lustrous dress.
Zoom out a bit more… and you'll see the incredible tiny waist on this woman, her bodice wrapped so tightly across it she can probably hardly breathe! You see more of that cinnabar colored silk fabric that makes me swoon with envy, and more giant pearls here and there along with other details.
Zoom out more... and you'll see Largillière's final full-sized painting. The woman's face seems so plain and conservative compared to her opulent dress. How old do you think she is? She has kept her figure for sure, but the powdered gray wigs they wore in those days throw me off trying to guess her age. Since you started backwards viewing the details of this painting, revealing more and more glorious bits long the way, you know that this visual journey all started with one… shiny… white... pearl.