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The Letter Writer Surprised

Photo credit: The Wallace Collection

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Young people reading or writing letters in seventeenth-century Dutch paintings are invariably indicators of amorous intrigue. Here, the lady is so absorbed in answering the letter propped against the inkstand before her that she not only neglects her domestic duties, symbolised by the work basket, but also fails to perceive the jealous lover who angrily peers over her shoulder. The cello standing idle in the foreground underscores the lack of harmony between the protagonists in the painting.

The Wallace Collection

London

  • Date

    c.1658–1660

  • Medium

    oil on oak panel

  • Measurements

    45.2 x 38.6 cm

  • Accession number

    P240

  • Acquisition method

    acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1867; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

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The Wallace Collection

Hertford House Manchester Square, London, Greater London W1U 3BN England

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