The Stolen Letter

Frederick Warren Freer (1849-1908)


Oil on canvas

This painting presents an interesting twist on the 19th century troupe of depicting beautiful women engaged in solitary actions. Instead of focusing solely on her beauty and the aesthetics of the scene, Frederick Warren Freer infused a mysterious narrative into the work by including a letter featuring the phrase “do try” and the word “alone.” Freer’s inclusion of a cockatoo, which typically symbolized a wild nature, suggests that there may be more to this prim young lady than meets the eye.

For Further Thinking: What do you think was contained in the letter?

Why might she be willing to allow her bird to destroy it?