Letters in Dutch Golden Age Art

Letters in Dutch Golden Age Art

What was the Dutch Golden Age and who were the golden generation of artists who lived and worked during it? Find out below. 

What to watch...

What's so exciting about a woman in her house reading a letter? At first glance this painting may appear to be just that, but the more you look, the more interesting this painting gets. People reading and writing letters was a very popular theme in art during the Dutch Golden Age, especially with artists like Johannes Vermeer and Gerrit ter Borch who were known for their domestic scenes. In our new film for ages 7-11, our young presenter Heather asks what we think is contained within the letter, using clues from the surrounding scene. Is it good or bad news? Perhaps it is a letter from a lover? Watch the film to decide for yourself. 

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Did You Know? 

The meaning of another of Vermeer's letter paintings 'Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window' became much clearer after a hidden clue in the painting was discovered! An X-ray of the canvas revealed a painting of Cupid on the back wall of the interior scene, which had been painted over in the centuries after Vermeer. It took three years to restore the work back to its original intended state. As Cupid is the god of love, it suggests that the girl is reading a love letter. Other clues in the painting, such as the overflowing bowl of fruit and the open window, symbolise the girl's desire for something or someone beyond the confines of her domestic life. 

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