Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (c. 1663-1664) by Jan Vermeer

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter - Jan Vermeer - c. 1663-1664

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Artwork Information

TitleWoman in Blue Reading a Letter
ArtistJan Vermeer
Datec. 1663-1664
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions46.6 x 39.1 cm (18 11/32 x 15 13/32 in.)
Current LocationRijksmuseum, Amsterdam

About Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

“Woman in Blue Reading a Letter” is a poignant oil on canvas artwork by Jan Vermeer, dating back to approximately 1663-1664. The painting’s dimensions are 46.6 cm by 39.1 cm, and it is part of the collection at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This work is a classic example of Vermeer’s masterful use of light and color to convey intimacy and quiet contemplation.

The artwork exhibits an interior scene where a woman stands absorbed in reading a letter. She is dressed in a vibrant blue jacket that contrasts with the muted tones of her skirt and the room around her. The natural light streaming in from the left illuminates her face and the upper part of her garment, creating a delicate play of light and shadow that enhances the three-dimensionality of the form. The woman’s gentle posture and the downward gaze suggest a moment of introspection, possibly hinting at the personal nature of the missive she holds.

Behind the woman, a large map is tacked to the wall, its rich detail denoting a fascination with global exploration and cartography characteristic of the Dutch Golden Age. The presence of the map may also allude to the possible contents of the letter, perhaps suggesting news from afar or the relationship of the woman to someone distant. Vermeer’s careful attention to the textural details—the brass tacks in the chair, the fine lines of the woman’s collar, and the palpable weight of the drapery—showcase his skill in rendering different materials and surfaces, thus adding a sensual depth to the scene.

Through this serene and composed tableau, Vermeer captures a private moment frozen in time, inviting viewers to ponder the unseen story held within the letter and the thoughts passing through the reader’s mind.

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