Trompe-l'oeil paintings are works made to deceive the eye and imitate real objects or a real landscape view. This depiction of a letter rack filled with personal possessions also displays the artist's political allegiance, and reflects social mores of the time. It was painted c.1700, perhaps as a dedication to the famous Dutch explorer Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. The title page of the almanac 'Apollo Anglicanus' was originally dated 1696, possibly the date of the picture, as this was when the artist was in Britain. It was subsequently repainted to read 1676. This is not the only change made by the artist: in the Monarch's speech the monogram W R (King William III) has also been concealed. The miniature may be a self-portrait of Edwaert Collier, who specialised in elaborate 'trompe-l'oeils' of this type.
This object from the collection of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery was selected by Shan MacDonald who created the Hunterian Art Gallery's Relic Challenge.