Art in Detail_Painting the Secrets of Letters

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Art in Detail Painting the Secrets of Letters

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Handwritten letters remain one of the most deeply personal modes of communication. When represented in art, letters provide a window into the inner life of the reader or sender. Whether declarations of love or news from afar ...

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UNKNOWN Euryalus Sends His First Letter to Lucretia

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UNKNOWN Euryalus Sends His First Letter to Lucretia 1460 – 1470 Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment, 17.6 × 11.4 cm The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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HOOCH, Pieter de Man Reading a Letter to a Woman

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HOOCH, Pieter de Man Reading a Letter to a Woman 1670-74 Oil on canvas, 77 x 70 cm The Kremer Collection, Amsterdam

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VIGÉE-LEBRUN, Élisabeth Portrait of Comtesse de Cérès

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VIGÉE-LEBRUN, Élisabeth Portrait of Comtesse de Cérès 1784 Oil on canvas, 750 x 930 cm The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo

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BOUCHER, François The Love Letter

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BOUCHER, François The Love Letter 1750 Oil on canvas, 81 x 75 cm National Gallery of Art, Washington

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METSU, Gabriel Woman Reading a Letter

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METSU, Gabriel Woman Reading a Letter 1662-65 Oil on panel, 53 x 40 cm National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

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MIERIS, Frans van, the Elder Woman Writing a Letter

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MIERIS, Frans van, the Elder Woman Writing a Letter 1680 Oil on panel, 25 x 20 cm Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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VERMEER, Johannes The Love Letter

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VERMEER, Johannes The Love Letter 1669-1670 Oil on canvas, 44 x 38,5 cm Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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VERMEER, Johannes Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid

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VERMEER, Johannes Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid c. 1670 Oil on canvas, 72,2 x 59,7 cm National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

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METSU, Gabriel Man Writing a Letter

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METSU, Gabriel Man Writing a Letter 1662-65 Oil on panel, 53 x 40 cm National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

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Art in Detail, Painting the Secrets of Letters images and text credit   www. Music wav.        created olga.e. thanks for watching oes

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METSU, Gabriel Man Writing a Letter In this painting, the man is in the process of writing a letter; presumably for the lady represented in its pendant. The man’s fashionable black costume and the Persian carpet on the table suggest that he is well-to-do. The globe behind the window underscores his erudition.

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Unknown Euryalus Sends His First Letter to Lucretia This 15th century French parchment tells a scandalous story. Lucretia, a beautiful married woman from Sienna, receives a love letter from Euryalus via an intermediary. Pretending to be offended by the messenger (who has a naughty reputation), Lucretia tears the letter to pieces—but just as quickly gathers and saves them.

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HOOCH, Pieter de Man Reading a Letter to a Woman In this 17th-century tableau by Dutch genre painter Pieter de Hooch, a woman is enchanted by the letter read to her by a male companion. The needlework on the woman’s lap reinforces the scene’s calm domesticity. Could the letter be news from family abroad?

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VIGÉE-LEBRUN, Élisabeth Portrait of Comtesse de Cérès Anne Marie Thérèse de Rabaudy Montoussin was the Countess of Cérès. In this 18th-century painting by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, the fashionably-dressed young woman has just finished writing a letter.

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BOUCHER, François The Love Letter In a lush and verdant garden or wooded countryside, two young women recline at the base of a stone pillar surmounted by a carved lion. One ties an envelope around the neck of a pigeon with a blue ribbon while looking with admiration at her companion. The sheep that lounge about and the dog standing sentry tell us that these are shepherdesses, but like many such characters of Boucher’s they pay little attention to their responsibilities, preferring to idle the day away gathering flowers in a straw basket and sending missives via carrier pigeon.

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METSU, Gabriel Woman Reading a Letter A woman is engrossed in reading a letter she has just received from her suitor. She holds the sheet at an angle, not only because she may need more light to read it, but also because she wants to hide the contents from her maid. Yet, her servant already knows what the letter is about. She reveals a warning for her mistress by pulling aside a curtain protecting a painting of a ship sailing on choppy waters, a reference to the then common simile that love is like a rough sea.

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MIERIS, Frans van, the Elder Woman Writing a Letter A messenger waits patiently for the young woman to finish writing her letter. Judging from her clothing, she leads a life of luxury. To while away time, shenplays a lute. Given the amorous connotations associated with this instrument, her missive is surely addressed to a lover!

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VERMEER, Johannes The Love Letter Vermeer chose an unusual vantage point for this painting. From a dim space in the foreground, a glimpse is afforded of another room with a domestic scene. An elegantly dressed woman looks up expectantly at a maidservant, who has just handed her a letter. The seascape on the wall behind them may well allude to the epistle’s subject: during the 17th century, the sea was often compared to love, and the lover to a ship.

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VERMEER, Johannes Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid This painting is one of the most ingenious compositions of Vermeer’s late career. While a maidservant stares out of a window, her mistress writes a letter. In the foreground on the floor, lie a red seal, a stick of sealing wax and an object which is probably a letter-writing manual, often used for personal correspondence at the time.

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