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文月に寄す(To the month of the letter)

1. 手紙を読む青衣の女 (wikipedia)
Woman in blue reading a letter by Vermeer (c.1663)


 数年前、京都で見た「フェルメールからの手紙」という展覧会を思い出します (図1,2,3) 。ひとつの会場で眺めていると、青衣の女性と黄衣の少女が同じ人物に見えてきました。獅子の飾りのついた青い椅子はフェルメールが好んだ小道具のひとつですが、仮にこれが嫁入り道具だとしたら?あら、青い服の女性が話し始めました。

 July is "the month of the letter", when people write their wishes on the strips of fancy paper or confide their feelings in their letters.
 This month reminds me of an exhibition in 2011 whose topic were three pictures concerning the letter painted by Johannes Vermeer (fig.1,2,3). When I saw two of them in the same place, I could enjoy imagining that the girl writing a letter and the woman reading a letter are the same person. The blue chair with lion-shaped decoration is one of the properties that the painter often used. Suppose that this chair were one of her bridal furniture? Listen, a woman in blue has begun to murmur.

「Lady writing a letter by Vermeer wiki」の画像検索結果

2. フェルメール「手紙を書く女」
Lady writing a letter by Vermeer(c.1665)



「fluctuat nec mergitur medaille」の画像検索結果
たゆたえども沈まず (google search)

 He has not yet returned to me from his voyage. Every day I see a big map on the wall and look for the name of the port towns he mentioned in his letters. I used to like writing a love letter. Even when I did not meet him, I used to dress up with a fur-trimmed yellow cape and ribbonsthe pearl pierces and necklace were the props of Venus for me.

My pearls must have enchanted the seaman! Now I live in his house. But he is not here. I seek for him in his letters from overseas. I pray for his safety every day. I do not shave my forehead any more. My hair has been thinning, and only two ringlets about my ears are the remains of the abundant hair in my youth. My hands have become sinewy. I do not need my yellow cape any more. I am content with this simple ultramarine dress with salty scent. On my pearls, several books are piled up. Yes, I learned to read the book in order to make up for his absence, in order to forget that magic of Venus.

3. 手紙を書く婦人と召使 (wikipedia)
Lady writing a letter with her maid by Vermeer(c.1670)


Annunciation by Jan van Eyck(15c.)

Here is one more painting concerning the letterwhose characters are a lady writing a letter and her maid. Another letter scattered on the floor and a painting on the wall representing Moses saved by Pharaoh's daughterjust like one scene in a drama. Does this lady also intend to save her love by forgiving her lover who sent that letter on the floor? The maid is seeing the stained glass window through which the peaceful light streams in as if they were in a church.
 This mysterious painting with both sacred and profane elements was painted a little later than the above two, on a little larger scale. Did the painter try to create a more eloquent painting than before? Did his customers come to prefer such a story characteristic? And was the painter waiting for an opportunity to advance again into the highest-ranked genre: the historical (mythological) painting?
 Personally I would like to imagine this painting is a kind of parody of the Northern Renaissance paintings. The illuminant window on the left has often been seen since the works such as Jan van Eyck's. It is true that many contemporary painters of Vermeer adopted this composition, but it seems to me that the peacefullness of Vermeer's light resembles that of Northern Renaissance paintings.
 For example, I dare to liken this room to a chapel and these two women to the Virgin Mary and Angel Gabriel. Far-fetched? But Vermeer painted a stained glass and a wine glass in other two paintings. It is said that the figure in the window glass symbolizes the moderation (in drinking). But what if this wine implys also an element
of the Sacrament? Did the Dutch bourgeoisie that became rich (and sometimes favoured Vermeer's paintings) learn to enjoy his "mitate-e" * like Edo people? Too much imagination?

The Wine Glass by Vermeer(c.1660)


「jan vermeer」の画像検索結果

フェルメール「牛乳を注ぐ女」(google search)
by Vermeer (1658-61)

MilkmaidOh, maestro, wonderfulI don’t know very well about the painting, but I LOVE this peaceful lightwhich makes this picture something like an icon. One scene from a humble life, where a white-hooded and blue-aproned woman cuts some stale breads, pours milk, and simmers themthe moment in a chilly kitchen seems to be blessed by the light from Heaven.

Vermeer : You find that ? My small figure-paintings please everyone. But what I originally wanted to paint on largerer scale was the historical or mythotical scene. Since I became a painter, I desire to produce the brilliant religious paintings. Here in Delft, a Protestant town, such paintings never sell well, but I might win glory in another country such as France or in the future.

MilkmaidGlory? You ARE already one of the most glorious painters! You polish our ordinary days like a chain of pearls. You choose and describe the area preserving most the appearance of our old town and create a door to the lost time. They are more real and impressive scenes than the image through the camera obscura. The door to your empire of light will remain for ever and through which the people in the future will send their love letters to you.

Courtesan in the guise of Kinkoh Hermit by Harunobu
The carp is the emblem of the courage to get over a difficulty.


 Mitate-Kinkoh Hermit (
Xian) by Suzuki Harunobu, whose unique composition ofa beauty sitting on a carp derives from that of Kinkoh Hermit riding on that fish. Mitate, i.e., "mitate-e" * is a picture that appears to describe the mode of life in fashion, but actually describes Japanese or Chinese classics and historical events, legends, etc. Here the beauty is likened to a Chinese hermit. The beauty (courtesan) is reading a love letter from one of her customers. Mitate-Fukurokuju is also a courtesan reading a letter. The combination of Sacred and Profane again!
 On the Star Festival night, I would like to liken these courtesans to Vega. Vega riding on a carp (crane) is going to see Altair who sent her a passionate letter.


Courtesan in the guise of Fukurokuju by Harunobu (18c.)

うづまける波越え水なき空わたり君を運ばむ な泣きそ

I bring you to your Artair beyond the whirling waves or through the vault of heaven, so that do not cry tonight, Vega!


On the middle wa-gashi, Milky way and gold/silverstar (Vega/Altair) are represented by pieces of gold/silver leaf. (photo in 2015)

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by snowdrop-momo | 2016-07-17 05:16 | Summer(夏の便り) | Comments(7)
Commented by desire_san at 2016-07-17 09:45 x
Commented at 2016-07-17 12:00
Commented by snowdrop-momo at 2016-07-18 06:12
Commented by pikorin77jp at 2016-07-18 23:55
こんばんは!一周年の記事に 素敵な真珠の歌 贈ってくださり ありがとうございます。 私 宝石類には まったく興味がないのですが ただひとつ 真珠だけは とっても好きなんです。真珠のピアスは いつも つけています。


勿体にようなお祝の歌  ありがとうございます。

今日の手紙の記事 リストを聴きながら 読みすすんでいきました。

フェルメールも浮世絵の女性も 七月 文月に 手紙という ひとつのテーマで 選ばれてること  素晴らしいなあと思いました。
そして 今回も 和菓子、、、 これほんとにお菓子ですか。。あそび心いっぱい! こんな お菓子を作られる方がいらっしゃるのですね。
Commented by snowdrop-momo at 2016-07-19 05:57

日々の暮らしを、朝、顔を洗ってタオルに顔を埋める瞬間から愛おしむ(大島弓子のマンガから ^^)のは、実はエネルギーが要りますが、ぴこさまのように、一日一日を真珠のように紡ぐ方を見ていると、できそうな気がしてきます。

Commented at 2016-07-26 11:33 x
Commented at 2016-07-26 15:53 x