The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Letter Writer Surprised
  • Gabriel Metsu (1629 - 1667)
  • The Letter Writer Surprised
  • Netherlands
  • c.1658 - c. 1660
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 45.2 x 38.6 cm
  • Signature: 'Ga… / M…'
  • P240
  • East Galleries II
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Young people reading or writing letters in seventeenth-century Dutch paintings are invariably indicators of amorous intrigue. Here, the lady is so absorbed in answering the letter propped against the inkstand before her that she not only neglects her domestic duties, symbolised by the work basket, but also fails to perceive the jealous lover who angrily peers over her shoulder. The cello standing idle in the foreground underscores the lack of harmony between the protagonists in the painting.