Woman Reading a Letter (Vermeer)

Last updated

Woman Reading a Letter
Dutch: Brieflezende vrouw
Vermeer, Johannes - Woman reading a letter - ca. 1662-1663.jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Yearca. 1663 [1]
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions46.6 cm× 39.1 cm(18.3 in× 15.4 in)
Location Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Woman Reading a Letter (Dutch : Brieflezende vrouw) [1] [2] 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. [3]

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

{{distinguish||text=the internal region of Holland, or the more inclusive term [[Low Countries | conventional_long_name = Netherlands | native_name = Nederland (Dutch) | image_flag = Flag of the Netherlands.svg | image_coat = State coat of arms of the Netherlands.svg | common_name = the Netherlands | national_motto = 'Je maintiendrai' (French)
'Ik zal handhaven' (Dutch)
'I will uphold'

Johannes Vermeer 17th-century Dutch painter

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.

Contents

Composition

The central element of the painting is a woman in blue standing in front of a window (not depicted) reading a letter. [4] The woman appears to be pregnant, although many have argued that the woman's rounded figure is simply a result of the fashions of the day. [5] Although the woman's loose clothing may be suggestive, pregnancy was very rarely depicted in art during this period. [6]

While the contents of the letter are not visible, the composition of the painting is revealing. The map of the County of Holland and West Friesland [7] in the Netherlands on the wall behind the woman has been interpreted as suggesting that the letter she reads was written by a traveling husband. [8] Alternatively, the box of pearls barely visible on the table before the woman might suggest a lover as pearls are sometimes a symbol of vanity. [9] The very action of letter-reading reflects a thematic pattern throughout Vermeer's works, as a common private moment becomes revealing of the human condition. [10]

County of Holland former State of the Holy Roman Empire and part of the Habsburg Netherlands

The County of Holland was a State of the Holy Roman Empire and from 1432 part of the Burgundian Netherlands, from 1482 part of the Habsburg Netherlands and from 1648 onward the leading province of the Dutch Republic, of which it remained a part until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. The territory of the County of Holland corresponds roughly with the current provinces of North Holland and South Holland in the Netherlands.

West Friesland (region) region in North Holland, Netherlands

West Friesland is a contemporary region in the Northwest of the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland.

The painting is unique among Vermeer's interiors in that no fragment of corner, floor or ceiling can be seen. [11]

The composition and the female figure are similar to Vermeer's 1657-59 painting Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window . This work has similarities to his similarly-dated Woman with a Pearl Necklace and Woman Holding a Balance . The map, drawn by Balthasar Florisz. van Berckenrode  [ nl ], was published in 1620 and reprinted by Willem Blaeu in 1621; it also appears in Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl . The latter however, shows a polychromatic map while Woman Reading a Letter depicts a monochromatic print. That such a map really existed is proven by a monochromatic exemplar preserved at Hoorn. [7]

<i>Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window is an oil painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer. Completed in approximately 1657–59, the well-preserved painting is on display at the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden. For many years, the attribution of the painting—which features a young Dutch woman reading a letter before an open window—was lost, with first Rembrandt and then Pieter de Hooch being credited for the work before it was properly identified in 1880. After World War II, the painting was briefly in possession of the Soviet Union.

<i>Woman with a Pearl Necklace</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

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.

<i>Woman Holding a Balance</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

Woman Holding a Balance, also called Woman Testing a Balance, is an oil painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Johannes Vermeer.

See also

Related Research Articles

Pieter de Hooch Dutch Golden Age painter

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.

<i>The Little Street</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

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".

<i>The Milkmaid</i> (Vermeer) 1658 painting by Johannes Vermeer

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".

<i>A Lady Writing a Letter</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

A Lady Writing a Letter is an oil painting attributed to 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It is believed to have been completed around 1665. The Lady is seen to be writing a letter and has been interrupted, so gently turns her head to see what is happening. She wears twelve pearls.

<i>Girl with a Pearl Earring</i> 1665 painting by Johannes Vermeer, in the collection of the Mauritshuis

Girl with a Pearl Earring is an oil painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer, dated c. 1665. Going by various names over the centuries, it became known by its present title towards the end of the 20th century after the large pearl earring worn by the girl portrayed there. The work has been in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague since 1902 and has been the subject of various literary treatments. In 2006, the Dutch public selected it as the most beautiful painting in the Netherlands.

<i>Saint Praxedis</i> (painting) painting attributed to Johannes Vermeer

Saint Praxedis is an oil painting attributed to Johannes Vermeer. This attribution has often been questioned. However, in 2014 the auction house Christie's announced the results of new investigations which in their opinion demonstrate conclusively that it is a Vermeer. The painting is a copy of a work by Felice Ficherelli, and depicts the early Roman martyr, Saint Praxedis or Praxedes. It may be Vermeer's earliest surviving work, dating from 1655.

<i>The Love Letter</i> (Vermeer) painting by Johannes Vermeer

The Love Letter 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.

<i>The Concert</i> (Vermeer) stolen painting by Johannes Vermeer

The Concert is a painting by Dutchman Johannes Vermeer depicting a man and two women performing music. It belonged to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, but was stolen in 1990 and remains missing.

<i>Study of a Young Woman</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

Study of a Young Woman is a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, completed between 1665 and 1667, and now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

<i>The Allegory of Faith</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

The Allegory of Faith, also known as Allegory of the Catholic Faith, is a painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670–72. The painting is currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and has been since 1931.

<i>Woman with a Lute</i> 1660s painting of Johannes Vermeer

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.

<i>Lady Seated at a Virginal</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

Lady Seated at a Virginal, also known as Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, is a genre painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670–72 and now in the National Gallery, London.

<i>Lady Standing at a Virginal</i> 1670 painting by Johannes Vermeer

Lady Standing at a Virginal is a genre painting created by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in about 1670–1672, now in the National Gallery, London.

<i>Officer and Laughing Girl</i> 17th-century painting by Johannes Vermeer

Officer and Laughing Girl, also known as Officer and a Laughing Girl, Officer With a Laughing Girl or De Soldaat en het Lachende Meisje, was painted by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer between 1655 and 1660. It was painted in oil on canvas, typical of most Dutch artists of the time, and is 50.5 by 46 cm. It now resides in The Frick Collection in New York.

<i>View of Delft</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

View of Delft is an oil painting by Johannes Vermeer, painted ca. 1660–1661. The painting of the Dutch artist's hometown is among his most popular, painted at a time when cityscapes were uncommon. It is one of three known paintings of Delft by Vermeer, along with The Little Street and the lost painting House Standing in Delft. The use of pointillism in the work suggests that it postdates The Little Street, and the absence of bells in the tower of the New Church dates it to 1660–1661. Vermeer's View of Delft has been held in the Dutch Royal Cabinet of Paintings at the Mauritshuis in The Hague since its establishment in 1822.

Jacob Abrahamsz. Dissius was a Dutch typographer and printer. He is most notable as an art collector and for his links to Johannes Vermeer - his collection included 21 Vermeer works and in 1680 he married Madgdalene, daughter and sole heir of Vermeer's main patron Pieter van Ruijven. Dissius died in 1695 and his collection was auctioned off in Amsterdam the following year.

References

  1. 1 2 Woman Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer, c. 1663, Rijksmuseum. Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
  2. (in Dutch) Brieflezende vrouw, Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1663, Rijksmuseum. Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
  3. Barker, Emma; Nick Webb; Kim Woods (1999). The changing status of the artist. Yale University Press. p. 194. ISBN   978-0-300-07742-1 . Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  4. White, James Boyd (1 April 2003). The Edge of Meaning. University of Chicago Press. p. 263. ISBN   978-0-226-89480-5 . Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  5. Snow, Edward A. (1994). A study of Vermeer. University of California Press. p. 168. ISBN   978-0-520-07132-2 . Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  6. De Winkel, Marieke (1998). "Interpretation of Dress in Vermeer's Paintings". Studies in the History of Art. 55: 326–330. JSTOR   42622616.
  7. 1 2 James A. Welu, 1975, "Vermeer: His Cartographic Sources", The Art Bulletin57: 529-547
  8. White (2003), 265.
  9. Schneider, Norbert (17 May 2000). Vermeer, 1632-1675: veiled emotions. Taschen. p. 49. ISBN   978-3-8228-6323-7 . Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  10. Baker, Christopher. "Vermeer, Jan". Oxford Art Online. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  11. Snow (1994), 167.

Further reading