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The Letter

painting by Eugene IsabeyAlthough he lived in a later era, French artist Eugene Isabey (1803-1886) had an affinity for painting scenes from the Middle Ages. He was thought to be particularly skilled at depicting the clothing of that era. This painting, entitled The Letter asks more questions than it answers.

A young lady appears to be hiding in the woods from some unknown pursuers. She is clearly distraught over a letter that she is allowing to fall to the ground from her fingertips. Her pet dog and a friend appear to console her as another young woman appears to worriedly be making sure they remain away from prying eyes. The Letter was painted in 1862 and may be showing a blend of influences – the historical painting style of an earlier time as well as the growing popularity of the Impressionists in light of the somewhat muddied details of the lady’s faces and the limited detailing on the dog. It is an oil on canvas work which measures 20 7/8 x 16 in. (53 x 40.6 cm).


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