British, 19th century
The Love Letter, c. 1850
oil on canvas
76.5 x 50.4 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of the Women's Committee
The painter of The Love Letter has been identified with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of English artists who looked to the pre-Renaissance (before Raphael) for their artistic inspiration. Founded in 1848, the group, which included Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt, drew from a variety of literary sources such as the Bible, Shakespeare, contemporary poetry, and quattrocento painting for their subject matter. In the WAG picture, a woman in a fashionable Victorian black velvet and satin dress can be seen hiding a letter in a section of the foliage-covered stone wall. With large trees found on both sides of the wall, it is difficult to tell whether she is standing within or outside the enclosed garden. However, considering the painting’s Pre-Raphaelite association, we might assume she is found within a medieval-inspired garden.