Gabriel Metsu Paintings
Man Writing a Letter, 1662-1665
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
Metsu's indisputable masterpieces are Man Writing a Letter and Woman Reading a Letter which were painted as companion pieces. In both paintings, the way the silvery daylight flows over the figures set against light walls is not surpassed by Vermeer. The pendants offer a small drama: the handsome man writes a letter, and its patient recipient attentively reads it by the light of a window. Here letter writing and reading are most likely associated with love.
The Man Writing a Letter offers a view of the love of comfort and beautiful materials in the home of a well-to-do burgher about 1660, and the heavily carved gilt Baroque frame around the landscape painting on the wall behind the handsome young man makes clear that not all seventeenth-century Dutch paintings were enclosed in rectilinear black ebony mouldings.