Jacob Duck was originally trained as a goldsmith before beginning his training as a painter under Cornelis Droochsloot at the relatively advanced age of twenty-one. While painting in Utrecht at this time was largely the domain of the Caravaggisti, Duck modelled his style on the works of the Amsterdam artists Pieter Codde and William Duyster, and their subject matter of guard room scenes and merry companies.
As Peter Sutton points out in the catalogue of the exhibition Love Letters, Dutch Genre paintings in the Age of Vermeer (Bruce Museum, 2003, pp. 16-17), both Codde and Duyster were early exponents of the letter becoming a central theme in images of everyday life. In Duyster's Woman with a letter and a man (Copenhagen, Statens museum for Kunst), there are obvious similarities to the present painting, although Duck's addition of the old lady studying a document, and the depiction of the Sacrafice of Isaac on the back wall, has clearly altered the narrative of the event.