The woman with the lute has just received a love letter, while playing her instrument. Her maid hands it to her, but she has not opened it yet. One of the things about Vermeer paintings is that you feel like you are intruding or an voyeur, glancing in at a private scene you shouldn’t be seeing, someone’s private moment and private life. There was much curiosity about what well to do women did during the day, because they were often not out in public, and Vermeer satisfied that curiosity with many of his paintings.
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