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Woman Reading a Letter
Woman Reading a Letter is an oil-on-canvas painting by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, produced in around 1663. The central element of the painting is a woman in blue standing in front of an unseen window, reading a letter. The woman appears to be pregnant, although as pregnancy was rarely depicted in art during this period, some scholars have argued that the woman's rounded figure is simply a result of the fashions of the day. While the contents of the letter are not depicted, the composition of the painting is revealing. The map of the Netherlands on the wall behind the woman has been interpreted as suggesting that the letter she reads was written by a traveling husband. Alternatively, the box of pearls barely visible on the table before the woman might suggest a lover, as pearls are sometimes a symbol of vanity. The painting is unique among Vermeer's interiors in that no fragment of corner, floor or ceiling can be seen. Part of the collection of the city of Amsterdam as part of the Van der Hoop bequest, it has been in the Rijksmuseum since its inception.Painting: Johannes Vermeer