Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window (From the Archives)

This is something I wrote about a few years ago, but I came across it when browsing through the archived blog posts from my old site. I thought it was worth sharing again, so I kept the original post intact, adding more things on at the end. It has been over four years since I wrote this:  I was studying at Duncan of Jordanstone, and still concentrating on painting. How time flies. can't believe it!

April 13, 2010

I have been working on a new painting. It is a portrait of Paul. Derek, my tutor, gave me advice about how to make paintings look more like old masters work. The sitter is to be posed: preferably in a formal stance, or just as a subtle reference to an old master painting that I admire. I have been thinking about making a tribute to Vermeers Girl reading a Letter by an Open Window. I love Richters tribute to it. In fact, there have been several adaptations, but here are my favourites:

 Johannes Vermeer,  Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window , 1657

Johannes Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, 1657

 Gerhard Richter,  Lesende , 1994

Gerhard Richter, Lesende, 1994

 Tom Hunter,  Woman reading a Possession Order,  1997

Tom Hunter, Woman reading a Possession Order, 1997

I wrote about the two paintings here in my contextual review at uni- mine was about the use of photography in paintings (Hopefully, that is what my dissertation will be about, too).  Anyway, referencing a famous pose such as this, or perhaps even a gesture with the hands, as in Van Eycks Arnolfini portrait, would be a powerful idea to bring forward, I think.

13th October, 2014

I didn't end up writing about the use of photography in paintings for my dissertation: writing that essay was enough for me! I began to change direction after that, and start thinking less about representational painting and more about drawn/printed pattern. Quite a segue!

A few years after writing that essay (which went okay), boooooom published an article featuring all kinds of 'remakes' of famous paintings, in the form of photography. So here are two more. I can't believe the second one is a photograph!

Johann Watzke, Girl reading a letter by an open window,  2011

Wanda Martin, Girl reading a letter by an open window, 2011

The girl reads a secret love letter, as a symbolic basket of tempting fruit spills over on her bed and the window of her home is flung wide open. It has been summarised as "a woman's longing to extend her domestic sphere" beyond the constraints of her home and society. (Vermeer, 1632–1675 (2000), Norbert Schneider)

Do you think that these tributes and remakes are successful? Which ones, and why?