Woman Writing a Letter

Borch, Gerard terc. 1655


Den Haag, Netherlands

Ter Borch’s oeuvre consists largely of intimate paintings of people absorbed in what they are doing. This woman writing a letter is the first of a whole series and was an example for other artists, like Vermeer.

The woman is sitting at a table and has pushed aside the costly oriental tablecloth. Next to her is a softly gleaming pewter inkstand. The action in the scene is minimal – we can imagine for ourselves what the woman is thinking and writing.


  • Title: Woman Writing a Letter
  • Creator: Borch, Gerard ter
  • Date Created: c. 1655
  • Physical Dimensions: h38.3 cm x w27.9 cm
  • Provenance: Possibly Jacob Lois, Rotterdam (inventory 1676, no. 45); possibly Etienne François, Duc de Choiseul, Paris, before 1771 (see Basan 1771, p. 6, no. 59 and sale, Paris, 6 April 1772 [Lugt 2020], no. 29 [for 1,500 livres to Marquis de Saint-Céran]); probably a member of the Elias family (Jacob Elias?), Amsterdam; anonymous sale, including paintings from the Elias family, Amsterdam, 11 May 1801 (Lugt 6261), no. 87 (for 205 guilders to De Bosch); Bernardus de Bosch Junior, Amsterdam, 1801-1816; his widow, Christina de Vries, Amsterdam, 1816-1817; De Bosch sale, Amsterdam, 10 March 1817 (Lugt 9064), no. 3 (for 192 guilders to Jeronimo de Vries); Lucretia van Winter, 1817-1845; by inheritance to her husband, jonkheer Hendrik Six van Hillegom, Amsterdam, 1845-1847; jonkheer Jan Pieter Six van Hillegom and jonkheer Pieter Six van Vromade, Amsterdam, 1847-1899/1905; jonkheer Willem Six van Wimmenum, Amsterdam, 1905-1919; jonkheer Jan Six, Amsterdam, 1919-1926; his sale, Amsterdam (A.W.M. Mensing), 16 October 1928, no. 46 (for 319,000 guilders to Deterding); gift of Sir Henri W.A. Deterding, 1928
  • Type: painting; oil
  • Medium: panel

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