How to Look at a Painting

Have you ever really looked at a painting?

Cornell art professors Norman Daly and Kenneth Evett present a spontaneous pictorial analysis of Johannes Vermeer’s mid-17th century painting “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window.” As accomplished artists themselves, as well as educators, Evett and Daly’s presentation weaves together keen technical observations with expressions of admiration for Vermeer’s artistry. While the two enthusiastically guide us in how to see a painting, consideration of symbolism or content is generally left to each viewer.

The original painting of “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window” included a painting-within-a-painting of cupid on the wall behind the girl. This image was later over-painted leaving the mottled light-splashed wall we see in this video. A decade after the deaths of Daly and Evett, a conservator discovered the over-painted image of cupid while x-raying the painting. During the period from 2018-2021, the painting was cleaned and restored to its original composition.

“Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window” by Johannes Vermeer has been in the collection of Gemäldegalerie in Dresden, Germany since 1742.

Gemaelde Galerie:

Norman Daly Art:
Civilization of Llhuros:
Cornell University Archives (RMC):

Kenneth Evett: