Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window

Posted in english for especial purposes by erikatxu on mayo 20, 2010

Girl reading a Letter at an Open Window is a painting finished in 1657 by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. At first it was attributed to Rembrandt. But, in fact, this was something common. There were great difficulties to establish which painting were by Vermeer himself and which were not, mainly because of problems with the signature recorded in the paintings. In addition to this already existing problems we have to bear in mind that there are no letters by Vermeer where some kind of information could be found, nor even any contract or paper where clarify something. Besides, we know very little by Vermeer’s life. However, in 1862 the correct identification was made and the painting was eventually attributed to Vermeer.

If I have chosen this painting and not any other is because the intimacy of the painting itself surprises me. There are nor so many painters that achieve this kind of intimacy I am referring to. You can see a girl reading a letter, alone in a room, with the outside world in front of her eyes, and she just focuses her attention in the letter, in what is written there. She is indifferent to the rest of the world, and the stillness she shows I think is quite amazing. She seems as rejecting the world, the room, the house, even herself. She just reads a letter. A letter that maybe she has been expecting long time ago. Good or bad news, it doesn’t matter. That’s why I chose this painting.

Vermeer’s style has been compared to Rembrandt’s style. They have something very special in common but many differences at the same time. Rembrandt is darker, while Vermeer is brighter. But what they have in common is where they focus the light. They set up the light in a specific point in the picture, but not any point, but the important one. Where the eyes have to be driven, where we should focus our attention. A very good example is in “Girl with a pearl earring” painting. We can consider that there are three main points of light: the face itself, the mouth lower lip and the earring. The important points are reflected with light.

It’s funny to know that at the back of the picture, in the wall, and next to the girl, there was a Cupid picture. That shows that the letter the girl is reading is a love letter. Besides, the fruits on the bed, next to the tapestry, contains apples, among other fruits, meaning that is an infidelity, an extra-marital relationship. I did not notice these features when I decided to choose this painting. What called my attention was the letter, the girl’s face, her expression, what that could mean, what is hidden. The soft and pale colours of the painting also called my attention. The light can be seen perfectly well, and the scene is brilliantly defined.

The girl is holding on her breath,she is nervous, expectant. That’s what I like the most of this painting.





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