★ Paintings frequently portray great events and grand people, but ‘An Interesting Letter’ by American artist Julius LeBlanc Stewart (1890) shows a scene far more familiar to most people. I have a bit of a passion for paintings that depict everyday life – known as genre paintings – not only because of their frequently intriguing titles, but also due to all the delicious details they contain, in both the people depicted and their surroundings. I love the exquisite floral dress of the lady on the left, with its scalloped hem and lace trim. I love the casually discarded mantle, hat and umbrella draped over the chair, which is itself adorned with a fringe of red tassels. The patterned rug, the Japanese folding screen, the tantalus holding three decanters on the table… so many beautiful details that can be overlooked at first glance but reward the careful viewer. Paintings like this are an invitation to just sit and look, and I for one, am more than happy to oblige.