The Easel

Archives: The New Criterion

21st May 2019

OK, Cupid?

Vermeer made six “letter” paintings, each showing a girl reading or writing at a desk. Without an explicit narrative, they all have a contemplative, “innate tranquility”. Restoration has now uncovered a prominent Cupid image in one, providing a narrative – “a commentary on an amorous relationship.” Is the painting diminished now it has lost its alluring silence? A video (2 min) is here.