Woman with letter and envelope

The Letter, 1791


Oil on canvasexpand_more

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linskyexpand_more  64.63.2

Not on Viewexpand_more

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.



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

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Woman with letter and envelope