In 1742 the Elector of Saxony, August III, acquired this painting, which he believed to be a Rembrandt; the previous year he had bought The Procuress. During the Second World War both pictures were among Dresden’s works of art hidden for safety and consequently spared from the British bombing. In 1945 they were seized by the Red Army as booty and secretly taken to Moscow. When the question of returning Dresden’s pictures arose, the Soviet minister of culture wanted East Germany to allow two works to remain in Russia in gratitude. His choice, a masterpiece by Giorgione (c. 1476/8-1510) and Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, is evidence of the importance of this early Vermeer. This proposal was dropped and both Vermeer’s were among the paintings returned to Dresden in 1955.
Martin Bailey, (1995) In Essential Vermeer. Retrieved April 17, 2009, from http://www.essentialvermeer.com