Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Spinner

Quirijn van Brekelenkam (Dutch, Zwammerdam (?), after 1622–ca. 1669 Leiden)
Oil on wood
19 x 25 1/4 in. (48.3 x 64.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1871
Accession Number:
Not on view
This panel was acquired in the Museum's founding purchase of paintings in 1871. It is a typical work by Van Brekelenkam, signed with his initials and dated 1653. While hardly the equal of contemporary works such as the Interior of a Tailor's Shop, also dated 1653 (Worcester Art Museum), the painting is entirely consistent in execution with such pictures as Man Spinning and Woman Scraping Carrots (Philadelphia Museum of Art) of 1653–54.

The artist worked in Leiden, one of the leading centers of the Dutch cloth trade. Spinning was a widespread cottage industry, with both men and women doing piecework at home, supplying yarn to factory looms. The picture offers praise for hard work and humility, rather than social commentary; the Bible placed on top of the cupboard serves as a reminder of the couple's piety.

[2011; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (on spinning wheel): Q V B 1653
Cropley Ashley Cooper, 6th Earl of Shaftesbury, Saint Giles's House, Wimborne, Dorset (until d. 1851; his estate sale, Christie's, London, May 15, 1852, no. 18, for £5.10); baron de Heusch, château de l'Andweck (until 1870; posthumous sale, Étienne Le Roy and Victor Le Roy, Brussels, May 9–10, 1870, no. 4, for BF 300 to Le Roy); [Étienne Le Roy, Brussels, through Léon Gauchez, Paris, 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, New York, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 75, calls it an excellent picture by Brekelenkam.

Alfred von Wurzbach. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon. Vol. 1, Vienna, 1906, p. 181.

Peter C. Sutton in Masters of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1984, p. 160, fig. 2, under no. 19, calls it the closest of numerous related compositions by Brekelenkam to "Man Spinning and Woman Scraping Carrots" (about 1653–54; John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art), which seems to depict both the same models and the same interior; notes that both the theme of spinning and the motif of the spiral staircase may have been inspired by works from the 1630s by Gerard Dou.

Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 187.

Angelika Lasius. Quiringh van Brekelenkam. Doornspijk, The Netherlands, 1992, pp. 30, 153–54, no. B30, includes it among works of uncertain attribution; notes the similar interior in other pictures by or attributed to Brekelenkam and suggests that the artist was inspired by Dou's "Tobit and Anna" (formerly De Boer Gallery, Amsterdam) [see Werner Sumowski, "Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler," vol. 1, 1983, p. 526, no. 247, ill. p. 544].

Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 170, 197, 205, 245, appendix 1A no. 79, ill.

Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 101–4, no. 23, colorpl. 23.

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