National Gallery of ArtWashington D.
The elegant author turns her attention from the letter that she writes and looks out momentarily at the viewer. A hint of a smile crosses her lips. She sits in a straight-backed chair with leather upholstery and lion's-head finials. The table covered with a slate blue cloth has rare objects on it: On the plaster wall in the distance is a barely discernible painting in an ebony frame depicting a still life, which included a foreshortened bass viola.
The care with which the design is composed is again revealed in its geometry; the width of the expanse of plaster wall at the right is equal to the height of the table, which in turn is half the distance from the bottom of the painting to the lower edge of the ebony frame of the picture at the back see Wheelock's comments in exh.
The woman in the present work has more individualized features than some of Vermeer's models, and it has sometimes been speculated that she could portray the artist's, wife, Catharina Bolneswho, having been born inwould have been an appropriate age early to mid- thirties if this work was painted as customarily dated in the mids.
However, with no surviving image of Catharina, there is no proof.
The subject of a woman writing a letter was also addressed by Vermeer in his painting Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maidservant in Dublin that is included in this exhibition. Among the six paintings in the painter's small oeuvre that deal with letter themes, all depict women, but most are represented reading.
The seated lady in Mistress and Maid in the Frick Collection, New York, had evidently been writing a letter before she unexpectedly receives a letter delivered by the maid. Those two paintings differ from the present work in depicting the lady accompanied by a maidservant who in one case awaits her reply and in the other delivers the missive.
The subject of a woman writing a letter had been first popularized by Gerrit ter Borch in his famous painting now in the Mauritshuis second lower right ; however, Ter Borch and the other artists who he influenced never depicted the woman looking out directly at the viewer.
Only Gabriel Metsu represents the woman looking at us as she writes rightand in that case he was probably influenced by the present work. Vermeer's lady in yellow engages our gaze, seemingly acknowledging the observer without alarm or surprise, but with a disarming candor, even familiarity.
Indeed, among Vermeer's full and knee-length genre paintings as opposed to bust and head-length or portrait studiesthe genial lady in the Washington painting is one of only three see also Woman Standing at a Virginal and the Woman Seated at a Virginalboth in the National GalleryLondon, who looks directly out at the viewer.
In all probability this garment is identical with the "yellow satin mantel with white fur trimming" listed in the inventory of Vermeer's household effects drawn up after his death in The small ebony box with studded decorations and the inkwell also appear in his other genre paintings, suggesting that Vermeer, like Ter Borch and so many other artists of the period, confected his genre scenes not only from a standard series of settings but also with a repertoire of costumes and props that he probably retained in his own possessions.The Lacemaker is a painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (–), completed around – and held in the Louvre, Paris.
Johannes Vermeer was baptized in the Reformed Church on 31 October   [Note 1] His father Reijnier Janszoon was a middle-class worker of silk or caffa (a mixture of silk and cotton or wool).
Mar 05, · The painting we'll be using for this exercise is Vermeer's "A Lady Writing" c. courtesy of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC Step 1: Make a mini Mind Map.
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An in-depth, interactive study of A Lady Writing by Johannes Vermeer.