A Woman Spinning Flax

François Bonvin French

Not on view

The motif of a woman sewing, knitting, or, as here, operating a spinning wheel was especially popular in nineteenth-century France, where Realist artists like Bonvin produced images that both exposed and aestheticized the arduous lives of working- and lower middle-class people. Here, Bonvin carefully applied charcoal to model the figure’s face, hands, and costume and to suggest light flooding into the spare interior. Reducing the setting to the bare minimum, he concentrates our attention on the woman and her own absorption in her work.

A Woman Spinning Flax, François Bonvin (French, Paris 1817–1888 Saint-Germain-en-Laye), Charcoal on laid paper

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