Tuesday, 12 April 2016

J = Jonge vrouw lezend bij open venster

The English translation is A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window. You always need to go to a museum to see how big or small a painting is, you cannot see that in a picture in a book (many people are surprised how small the Mona Lisa in the Louvre actually is). This painting of Vermeer is 83 x 64.5 cm (32 3/4 x 25 3/8 in.). It's one of my favourite paintings. If you want to see it, book a ticket to Dresden, go to the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) and be amazed.

Vermeer - A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window (1657–1659)


This painting of Vermeer shows a remarkable sense of privacy. The viewer feels almost like an intruder as we has been allowed to share discreetly this girl completely unaware of us watching her behind that green curtain  Light from the open window glows radiantly on her head and shoulders as she intently follows the letter's words. Her face is dimly reflected in the translucent and reflective qualities of glass. Not only her face but also the sheen of the woman's lemon yellow sleeves, and the nap of the wool rug, which he accents with coloured highlights. The reflection of the girl in the window emphasizes the importance of the letter, which becomes the axis of the painting. As in other works by Vermeer, the chair acts to clarify the spatial relations between the elements in the room, in this case the table and the end wall. The angle of the fruit bowl and the girl's forearm are parallel and thus visually related, so that we connect the golden sleeve of the girl with the large green curtain on the right.

Fruit in the painting

In the Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Vermeer displays an imported Chinese Wan-Li bowl with peaches, plums and perhaps a large apple. One peach has been halved with its rounded pit exposed to the viewer. The exhibit of ripe fruit accents the fullness of the girl herself, perhaps, ripe for love. A Dutch poet once recommended to "send apples, send pears or other fruit" to win over the heart of one's lover drawing inspiration from Ovid's Ars Amatoria.


Vermeer - Woman in Blue
Rob Mies noticed the resemblance of the girl in this painting with another painting by Vermeer "Woman in Blue reading a letter" (1663-1664). This painting acquired by the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, shows a woman in blue. Maybe she is pregnant, maybe not. The clothes in those days were concealing the shape of the body, fashion in these days. Speculation is also if this might be the wife of Vermeer, Catharina Bolnes, that we know had many children, so Vermeer might have wanted to paint her pregnant. In the 17th century not many Dutch artists painted woman pregnant, oddly enough. So if it's just a wide skirt, so if the face of woman is just a model or a memory of Vermeer. we will never know.

 Mr. Mies Photoshopped the face of both paintings the same size and put them over eachother. We have to agree there is a striking resemblance.
Woman in Blue
A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window

The model, the nose, the hair, the eyes, the lips, all evidence points out this was the the same model Vermeer used in his paintings.





  1. I wish I had the money and time to travel to Dresden and see this painting in person...it is one of my favorite Vermeer. Thanks for all this hard work you are doing, Han...hope you are recovering your strength well.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    1. You and me, both Cat. I would love to see this one in real life...

      Slowly getting my strength back, Cat, due for operation in a couple of weeks. Now getting better to do well in operation....

      Thank you for your kind words,

  2. Wow, and you hjons it was his wife?
    Do we know how she looked like?

    Nice post again.
    More, please...

    Mona Lisa

    1. No idea if this is his wife, Mona Lisa. It is possible...

      More coming up,

  3. This is really a beautiful painting!

    Rebel xox

  4. Replies
    1. I'm glad you found it interesting.
      Thank you for your comment,



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