Woman with letter and envelope

The Letter, 1791

expand_more

Oil on canvasexpand_more

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linskyexpand_more  64.63.2

The crumpled envelope cast to the floor indicates the eagerness with which this woman opened the letter she grasps in one hand. Her attention, however, is now turned to the miniature (small portrait) she holds in the other. Before the invention of photography, miniatures kept lovers close to one another’s hearts. But who is courting this woman' Their identity hidden from us, we can only speculate. The music book on the harpsicord and the elegant interior indicate that the woman in the painting is a member of the fashionable Parisian elite. With powdered hair and a ruffled apron covering her dress, she is likely the head of her household. But her slight smile, arched eyebrows, and sidelong gaze—as well as the older servant’s interest—suggests intrigue. Is the subject her husband, or perhaps a new suitor' As the artist intended, this delicately painted intimate scene coyly raises more questions than answers.

Explore

Audio

Garnier, The Letter (#523)
Details
Title
The Letter
Artist Life
1753 - 1819
Role
Artist
Accession Number
64.63.2
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

Woman with letter and envelope