Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid by Johannes Vermeer
This painting is one of the most ingenious compositions of Vermeer’s late career. While a maidservant stares out of a window, her mistress writes a letter. In the foreground on the floor, lie a red seal, a stick of sealing wax and an object which is probably a letter-writing manual, often used for personal correspondence at the time.
During the ten-year build of Russborough, Joseph Leeson, later 1st Earl of Milltown, undertook two Grand Tours to Italy. The purpose was to collect art and acquire sophistication and taste for his new residence. Throughout his life Sir Alfred Beit was also a keen collector of 18th and 19th century art as well as his inherited collection of old master paintings.
This extraordinary collection of paintings from both the Milltown and Beit were donated to the National Gallery of Ireland by Lady Geraldine Milltown in 1902 and by Sir Alfred and Lady Clementine in 1987 where they can be viewed today.