Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window

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.

X-rays of the canvas have shown that at one point Vermeer had featured a Cupid in the painting. This putto once hung in the upper right of the piece before, for whatever reason, Vermeer drew the draperies over it.

The draperies themselves, hanging in the left foreground, are not an uncommon element for Vermeer, appearing in seven of his paintings. Even more common, the repoussoir appears in 25, with Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, one of three which feature a rug-covered table or balustrade between the figure and the viewer. It was the last painting in which Vermeer featured this device.

Vermeer completed the painting in approximately 1657–1659. In 1742, Augustus III of Poland, Elector of Saxony, purchased the painting under the mistaken belief that it had been painted by Rembrandt. In 1826, it was mis-attributed again, to Pieter de Hooch. It was so labeled when French art critic Théophile Thoré-Bürger came upon it, recognizing it as one of the rare works of the Dutch painter and restoring its proper attribution in 1860.








Other Artists

  1. 1.William Shakespeare


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