|The Love Letter|
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||44 cm× 38.5 cm(17 in× 15.2 in)|
|Location||Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam|
The Love Letter (Dutch : De liefdesbrief) is a 17th-century genre painting by Jan Vermeer. The painting shows a servant maid handing a letter to a young woman with a cittern. The painting is in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
Genre painting, also called petit genre, depicts aspects of everyday life by portraying ordinary people engaged in common activities. One common definition of a genre scene is that it shows figures to whom no identity can be attached either individually or collectively—thus distinguishing petit genre from history paintings and portraits. A work would often be considered as a genre work even if it could be shown that the artist had used a known person—a member of his family, say—as a model. In this case it would depend on whether the work was likely to have been intended by the artist to be perceived as a portrait—sometimes a subjective question. The depictions can be realistic, imagined, or romanticized by the artist. Because of their familiar and frequently sentimental subject matter, genre paintings have often proven popular with the bourgeoisie, or middle class.
The cittern or cithren is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance. Modern scholars debate its exact history, but it is generally accepted that it is descended from the Medieval citole. It looks much like the modern-day flat-back mandolin and the modern Irish bouzouki, and is descended from the English Guitar. Its flat-back design was simpler and cheaper to construct than the lute. It was also easier to play, smaller, less delicate and more portable. Played by all classes, the cittern was a premier instrument of casual music-making much as is the guitar today.
The tied-up curtain in the foreground creates the impression that the viewer is looking at an intensely private, personal scene. There is also an element of trompe l'oeil as Dutch paintings were often hung with little curtains to conserve them, and the device of painted curtains is seen in other Dutch works of the period. The diagonals on the chequered floor create the impression of depth and three-dimensionality. The fact that it is a love letter that the woman has received is made clear by the fact that she is carrying a lute (more specifically, a cittern, a member of the lute/guitar family). The lute was a symbol of love - often carnal love; luit was also a slang term for vagina. This idea is further reinforced by the slippers at the very bottom of the picture. The removed slipper was another symbol of sex. The floor brush would appear to represent domesticity, and its placement at the side of the painting may suggest that domestic concerns have been forgotten or pushed aside.
A curtain is a piece of cloth intended to block or obscure light, or drafts, or water. A curtain is also the movable screen or drape in a theater that separates the stage from the auditorium or that serves as a backdrop.
In geometry, a diagonal is a line segment joining two vertices of a polygon or polyhedron, when those vertices are not on the same edge. Informally, any sloping line is called diagonal. The word "diagonal" derives from the ancient Greek διαγώνιος diagonios, "from angle to angle" ; it was used by both Strabo and Euclid to refer to a line connecting two vertices of a rhombus or cuboid, and later adopted into Latin as diagonus.
Three-dimensional space is a geometric setting in which three values are required to determine the position of an element. This is the informal meaning of the term dimension.
The colors blue and gold are important in the composition of the painting. In the household that the The Love Letter takes place in, gilded ornamentation indicates substantial wealth.The gold is located on the woman's dress, the top of the fireplace, and many of the objects, which complements the blue on the floor, the maid's dress, the picture frames, etc. Classical influence is also apparent in the ionic columns of the fireplace.
The two paintings on the wall are also significant. The lower painting is of a stormy sea, a clear metaphor for tempestuous love. Above it is a landscape painting of a traveler on a sandy road. This may refer to the absence of the man who is writing to the lady.
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface. The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. The final work is also called a painting.
The sea, the world ocean or simply the ocean is the connected body of salty water that covers over 70 percent of the Earth's surface. It moderates the Earth's climate and has important roles in the water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle. It has been travelled and explored since ancient times, while the scientific study of the sea—oceanography—dates broadly from the voyages of Captain James Cook to explore the Pacific Ocean between 1768 and 1779. The word "sea" is also used to denote smaller, partly landlocked sections of the ocean.
In the second half of the 17th century, the painting probably found its place in the collection of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth's monarch John III Sobieski.The 1696 inventory of the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw lists among Dutch paintings "a painting of a lady, playing a lute in a golden robe, while a girl gives her a letter in the black frames (obraz damy, grającej na lutni w złotej szacie, a dziewczyna list jey oddaje w ramach czarnych)".
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – formally, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland – was a dual state, a bi-confederation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. It was one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th– to 17th-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth covered almost 400,000 square miles (1,000,000 km2) and sustained a multi-ethnic population of 11 million.
John III Sobieski was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1674 until his death, and one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Wilanów Palace or Wilanowski Palace is a royal palace located in the Wilanów district, Warsaw. Wilanów Palace survived Poland's partitions and both World Wars, and so serves as a reminder of the culture of the Polish state as it was before the misfortunes of the 18th century.
On September 23, 1971, the painting was stolen from its display at The Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, where it was on loan from the Rijksmuseum. The thief, 21-year-old Mario Pierre Roymans, had locked himself in an electrical closet till the museum was closed. He then took the painting off the wall and tried to escape out of a window. However, when the frame failed to fit through the window, he cut the canvas from its frame with a potato peeler and hid the strip in his back pocket. Roymans first concealed the painting in his room at his place of work, The Soetewey (or Soete-Wey) Hotel. Later he buried it in a forest, but when it started to rain, he recovered it and hid it in his room inside his pillowcase.
The Centre for Fine Arts is a cultural venue in Brussels, Belgium. Often referred to as "BOZAR" or "PSK", the building was completed in 1929 at the instigation of Henry Le Bœuf (1874–1935) and includes exhibition and conference rooms, a cinema and a concert hall, which serves as home to the National Orchestra of Belgium.
Roymans is thought to have been motivated by news of the bloodshed, rape, and murder in the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. On October 3, 1971, using the name "Tijl van Limburg" (a character similar to Robin Hood), Roymans contacted the Brussels newspaper Le Soir and asked for a reporter to meet him in a forest with a camera. He drove the reporter, blindfolded, to a church and unveiled the painting from a white cloth cover. After letting the reporter take photos of the canvas in the car's headlights, he drove him back. He told the reporter that he actually loved art, but also loved humanity. After the encounter, the pictures were published, alongside Roymans' conditions: 200 million Belgian francs to be given to famine-stricken Bengali refugees in East Pakistan. Roymans also requested the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels organize campaigns in their respective countries to raise money to combat world famine. Roymans set the deadline for Wednesday, October 6.
The police took the photographs as evidence and asked an art expert to validate that they were of the actual painting. It was confirmed they were, but immediately after the confirmation, the director of the Rijksmuseum, Arthur van Schendel said that the photos were not sufficient proof of authenticity.In the following days Roymans continued to make contact with the media; when he was finally apprehended by police, on the day of his deadline, he was trying to call a news station.
The painting was returned to the Rijksmuseum on October 8 but wasn't announced to the public until October 11. It was in very poor condition after being cut out of its stretcher bars and frame. The restoration took almost a year. Roymans was given a court fine and sentenced to two years in prison, but only served six months in the end.
The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.
Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. He was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime but evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.
Henricus Antonius "Han" van Meegeren was a Dutch painter and portraitist and is considered to be one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century. Despite his life of crime, van Meegeren became a national hero after World War II when it was revealed that he had sold a forged painting to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
A Woman Peeling Apples is a painting by the Dutch Golden Age painter Pieter de Hooch in the Wallace Collection in London.
Pieter de Hooch was a Dutch Golden Age painter famous for his genre works of quiet domestic scenes with an open doorway. He was a contemporary of Jan Vermeer in the Delft Guild of St. Luke, with whom his work shares themes and style.
Nicolaes Maes was a Dutch painter known for his genre scenes, portraits, religious compositions and the occasional still life. A pupil of Rembrandt in Amsterdam, he returned to work in his native city Dordrecht for 20 years. In the latter part of his career he returned to Amsterdam where he became the leading portrait painter of his time. Maes contributed to the development of genre painting in the Netherlands and was the most prominent portrait painter working in Amsterdam in the final three decennia of the 17th century.
Esaias Boursse, was a Dutch painter. His paintings were mainly genre works.
The Little Street is a painting by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, executed c. 1657–58. It is exhibited at the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, and signed, below the window in the lower left-hand corner, "I V MEER".
The Milkmaid, sometimes called The Kitchen Maid, is an oil-on-canvas painting of a "milkmaid", in fact, a domestic kitchen maid, by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. It is now in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which regards it as "unquestionably one of the museum's finest attractions".
The Feast of Saint Nicholas, is a painting by Dutch master Jan Steen, which can now be found in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It measures 82 x 70.5 cm. The picture, painted in the chaotic Jan Steen "style," depicts a family at home on December 5, the night celebrated in the Netherlands as the Feast of Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas.
Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid is a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, completed in 1670–1671 and held in the National Gallery of Ireland. The work shows a middle-class woman attended by a housemaid who is presumably acting as messenger and go-between for the lady and her lover. The work is seen as a bridge between the quiet restraint and self-containment of Vermeer's work of the 1660s and his relatively cooler work of the 1670s. It may have been partly inspired by Ter Borch's painting Woman Sealing a Letter. The painting's canvas was almost certainly cut from the same bolt used for Woman with a Lute.
Jan Verkolje or Johannes Verkolje was a Dutch painter, draughtsman and engraver. He is mainly known for his portraits and genre pieces of elegant couples in interiors and, to a lesser extent, for his religious and mythological compositions. He was a gifted mezzotint artist. Trained in Amsterdam Verkolje spent his active professional career in Delft where he had access to powerful patrons.
Woman with a Lute, also known as Woman with a Lute Near a Window, is a painting created about 1662–1663 by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Colijn de Coter was an early Netherlandish painter who produced mainly altarpieces. He worked primarily in Brussels and Antwerp. His name was sometimes given as Colijn van Brusele, indicating that he hailed from Brussels or at the least lived there most of his active life. He also signed several paintings with Coliin de Coter pingit me in Brabancia Bruselle.
The Procuress is the name given to a number of similar paintings by the Dutch Golden Age painter Dirck van Baburen. The painting is in the Caravaggiesque style of the Utrecht school.
Woman with a Pearl Necklace by Johannes Vermeer is a seventeenth-century Northern European painting. Painted in oils on canvas, Johannes Vermeer portrayed a young Dutch woman, most likely of upper-class-descent, dressing herself with two yellow ribbons, pearl earrings, and a pearl necklace. As a very popular artist of the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age, Vermeer depicted many women in similar circumstances within interior, domestic scenes. The same woman also appears in The Love Letter and A Lady Writing a Letter.
Mistress and Maid (c.1667) is a painting produced by Johannes Vermeer, now in the Frick Collection in New York City. The work of Johannes Vermeer, also known as Jan, is well known for many characteristics that are present in this painting. The use of yellow and blue, female models, and domestic scenes are all signatures of Vermeer. This oil on canvas portrays two women, a Mistress and her Maid, as they look over the Mistress' love letter.
The Lute Player refers to a painting from 1623 or 1624 now in the Louvre by the Haarlem painter Frans Hals, showing a smiling actor wearing a jester's costume and playing a lute.
Woman Reading a Letter is an oil painting by Gabriël Metsu made in the mid-1660s, shortly before Metsu's death. During his lifetime, under the Golden Age of Dutch painting Metsu was a renowned painter, much better known than Vermeer. It is assumed to be a pair with Man Writing a Letter.
Mother with a Child and a Chambermaid (1665-1668) is an oil on canvas painting by the Dutch painter Pieter de Hooch, it is an example of Dutch Golden Age painting and is part of the collection of the Amsterdam Museum.