The Letter Writer, Frans van Mieris (I), 1680
A messenger waits patiently for the young woman to finish writing her letter. Judging from her clothing, she leads a life of luxury. To while away time, shenplays a lute. Given the amorous connotations associated with this instrument, her missive is surely addressed to a lover! Frans van Mieris was the most prominent Leiden fijnschilder (‘fine painter’): he could render velvet and silk, fur and wood in minute detail, in even the smallest format.