VERMEER, Johannes
(b. 1632, Delft, d. 1675, Delft)

The Love Letter (detail)

Oil on canvas
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The maid has a special function in several of Vermeer's paintings. She is able to act as a secret messenger for her mistress, who is not able to leave the house, which has been entrusted to her care, alone. In seventeenth-century treatises, sending love-letters was considered a sign that the woman had committed adultery.