Write about an artwork

One of the students' assignments was to write about an artwork of their choice.

This is how Eszter Rimányi (7/b) saw a painting by Jan Vermeer.


Johannes Vermeer:

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (1657- 1659)

Oil on canvas. The lines are careful and small.

Colours used: green, red, black, white, yellow, skin-tone, brown

At first, it was claimed to be made by Rembrandt. Then Peiter de Hoach, before finally properly identified to its rightful artist, in 1880.
After World War II., it was in the possession of the Soviet Union.

Was it familiar to you?

The painting was unfamiliar to me. It isn’t in the book. I hadn’t seen it before. I was browsing through paintings, when I found it. The contrast between the colours of the girl, the bed and the window drew my attention to the picture.

Describe it with your own words.

The girl seems fragile. Reading a letter with such emotion. She must have been waiting for weeks to grasp it. Her face isn’t visible directly, just from the side. Although, you can see its reflection in the window’s glass.


Words that come to my mind in connection with the artwork:

long distance: whoever wrote the letter, can’t talk to her face to face
longing: she might even be desperate to read the letter
reflection: the girl’s reflection isn’t fully visible, only its reflection
life without the internet: it’s quite strange (to me) , that in the time before the internet existed people had to wait a lot of time to each other, if they were apart.

Can you relate to the painting?

Yes, absolutely .I can relate to the girl a lot, because my father and brother live in the US. I can’t wait to skype with them in my free time. I feel like the girl at the window plenty of times, when I’m waiting for them to reply.

What questions would you ask?

Did the girl exist? Did Vermeer know her? Who wrote the letter? I have no clue. You have your imagination. Go! Find out!

The girl and her aching emotions are by far the most interesting elements of the painting. The story behind her, though, is unknown.