|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% of Earth's surface. It moderates 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 and certain large, entirely landlocked, saltwater lakes, such as the Caspian Sea and the Dead Sea.
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 until 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 painting 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 of 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 cars 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 additionally 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 these demands to be due 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, 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 crudely 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.
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.
Carel Pietersz. Fabritius was a Dutch painter. He was a pupil of Rembrandt and worked in his studio in Amsterdam. Fabritius, who was a member of the Delft School, developed his own artistic style and experimented with perspective and lighting. Among his works are A View of Delft (1652), The Goldfinch (1654), and The Sentry (1654).
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.
Anthonij (Anton) Rudolf Mauve was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of the Hague School. He signed his paintings 'A. Mauve' or with a monogrammed 'A.M.'. A master colorist, he was a very significant early influence on his cousin-in-law Vincent van Gogh.
Jan Asselijn, was a Dutch Golden Age painter.
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".
Willem Roelofs was a Dutch painter, water-colourist, etcher, lithographer and draughtsman. Roelofs was one of the forerunners of the Dutch Revival art, after the Romantic Classicism of the beginning of the 19th century, which led to the formation of The Hague school. His landscapes, especially the early ones with their dominating cloudy skies, demure bodies of water and populated with cattle, are typical for the School of Barbizon.
Leonaert Bramer, also Leendert or Leonard, was a Dutch painter known primarily for genre, religious, and history paintings. Very prolific as a painter and draftsman, he is noted especially for nocturnal scenes which show a penchant for exotic details of costume and setting. He also painted frescos—a rarity north of the Alps—which have not survived, as well as murals on canvas, few of which are extant. Bramer is one of the most intriguing personalities in seventeenth-century Dutch art.
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.
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.
Woman Reading a Letter is a painting by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, produced in around 1663. It has been part of the collection of the City of Amsterdam since the Van der Hoop bequest in 1854, and in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam since it opened in 1885, the first Vermeer it acquired.
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 Guitar Player is an oil painting by Dutch Baroque artist Johannes Vermeer, dated c. 1672. This work of art is one of Vermeer's final artistic activities, providing insight into the techniques he mastered and approaches to painting he favored. The painting has been on display at Kenwood House, London since the 1920s, as part of the Iveagh Bequest collection. After being recovered from a theft in 1974, when the painting was held for ransom, The Guitar Player was returned to Kenwood House.
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.