There is the usual charming style of Fragonard here, with light and colour displayed impressively. The young woman peers back at the viewer as she holds a bouquet of flowers close enough to smell. Perhaps she has just received them as a gift, which would explain her subtle smile. Behind all her makeup, which was frequently over-applied by modern standards during that era, it can sometimes be hard to precisely decipher facial expressions but in this case one can be confident that her present has been well received. Perhaps she feels a certain element of modesty of shyness in response to the present. The artist adds touches of white paint to the flowers in order to just lift them a little from the canvas, a similar technique is sometimes referred to as 'heightening'.

To refer to the title of this painting, we must of course mention what arrived with the flowers, which is the love letter. Who might it be from? Perhaps the relationship that she has with the individual could explain her somewhat coy expression - could it be a secret relationship that no-one else is aware of? Considering her age, it well be an eligible young bachelor with whom she shares a passionate and innocent love that has been temporarily slowed down by circumstances. Letters were an essential form of communication in previous centuries due to the lack of modern technology such as telephone or email. There is something much more romantic about receiving a hand-written letter from a loved one, where one can connect more easily with senses such as touch and even smell.

The original painting is now owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institution which holds amongst the finest art collections in North America, if not the entire world, and is amongst the most popular choices for visitors to the city of New York (they actually have three different venues within the state). Those fortunate enough to make a visit to this establishment should also be able to discover original artworks by the likes of Winslow Homer, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, to name just a few. Galleries and museums in the United States tend to have a strong focus on art from their own region plus across in Europe, with some then featuring items from further afield such as Africa, Asia or South America.

The Love Letter in Detail Jean-Honore Fragonard