Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Woman Reading a Letter
Dutch: Brieflezende vrouw
Vermeer, Johannes - Woman reading a letter - ca. 1662-1663.jpg
Artist Johannes Vermeer
Year 1663–1664
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 46.6 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. Part of the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam since 1885, it was the first Vermeer acquired by the museum.[3]


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, but this is not determined; although not universally accepted, many have argued that she appears so only because of the fashion of the day.[5]

While the contents of the letter are not depicted, the composition of the painting has been mined for clues. The map of the Netherlands on the wall behind the woman has been interpreted as suggesting that the letter she reads was written by a traveling husband.[6] 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.[7]

The painting is unique among Vermeer's interiors in that no fragment of corner, wall or ceiling can be seen.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Woman Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer, c. 1663, Rijksmuseum. Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
  2. ^ (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. ^ White (2003), 265.
  7. ^ Schneider, Norbert (17 May 2000). Vermeer, 1632-1675: veiled emotions. Taschen. p. 49. ISBN 978-3-8228-6323-7. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  8. ^ Snow (1994), 167.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]