The Letter

Artist: Pietro Longhi (Pietro Falca) (Italian, Venice 1701–1785 Venice)

Date: 1746

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 24 x 19 1/2 in. (61 x 49.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1912

Accession Number: 14.32.1


An older man with a coin in his hand negotiates with a procuress for the favors of a pretty young woman, who reads with evident pleasure the letter he has written her. The great Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni praised Longhi's dedication to truth, by which he meant the way the artist chronicled the foibles of contemporary society. This picture with three others in the Museum's collection seems to have formed part of a series painted in 1746 for the Gambardi family in Florence. The frames are original to the pictures.