A Girl Receiving a Letter

Essay by dailydream04 July 2004

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My favorite painting in the Timken Museum of Art is "A Girl Receiving a Letter". The size of the painting is 10-1/8 x 9-5/8 in. The medium of the painting is oil on panel. The painting was created by Metsu, Gabriel in 1658. Metsu was born in January, 1629. He was son of the painter Jacques Metsu, under whom he probably first studied. In 1648, he was a founder member of the guild in Leiden. In 1657, Metsu settled in Amsterdam and lived there until his death in 1667.

Some people say that Metsu trained with Dutch painter Gerrit Dou, but Metsu's early works are very different form his typically historical and mythological scenes, broadly rather than minutely painted. Metsu also painted portraits and still-lifes, but his most characteristic works are genre scenes, some of which rank among the finest of their period. He concentrated on the scenes of middle-class Dutch life with consummate taste in color and tone, fairly close to de Hooch and Terborch in style, but with a personal stamp.

His work is rarely dated, so his development and relationships with other artists are difficult to trace. One of his best-known works was about love letters.

Writing letters became fashionable in Europe in the seventeenth century. The establishment of a somewhat postal system stimulated a vogue in letter writing throughout much of Europe. Gabriel Metsu's painting was part of the Dutch tradition of images dealing with the popular subject of the love letter.

"A Girl Receiving a letter" was one of two paintings that elaborated on the theme, the love letter. The other painting was about a man was writing a letter in the Musee Fabre in Montpellier. These two paintings were considered as a pair because the similarity of their dimensions and their shared early provenance.