OIL PAINTING: The Love Letter, c.1667-1668
The provenance of The Love Letter of Vermeer is rather uncertain in its early stages. It may have been part of the collection Diego Duarte in Antwerp, 1682. Then in the Amsterdam sale of 1696, no. 6: "A young lady playing the clavecin in a room, with a listening gentleman; by the same; fl 80." Afterward, possibly in another Amsterdam sale, 1714. However, the description alludes only to a "woman playing the clavecin in a room," without mentioning the listening gentleman. Hence, doubt. Joseph Smith, English consul in Venice, bought in 1741 a number of Dutch paintings from the widow of the painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675-1741). One was described in Pellegrini's inventory as A Lady at the Spinet - without mention of the gentleman. When Smith sold his collection to King George III, it contained a painting attributed to Frans van Mieris: A Woman Playing on a Spinnet in presence of a Man seems to be her father. The Mieris is certainly our Cat. No. 13, but whether we have here the painting formerly owned by Pellegrini remains questionable. From the collection of George III to the English royal collection.