Seated Woman with a Letter
Dirck Hals, Dutch (active Haarlem and Leiden), 1591 - 1656
As literacy rates soared in seventeenth-century Holland, letter-writing became a popular mode of long-distance communication, especially between lovers and married couples. Far-flung Dutch trading interests that frequently sent merchants and sailors abroad also increased the need to connect with loved ones at home. Here, the woman’s beaming expression suggests that she is pleased to receive the news contained in the letter she dangles from her hand.
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