A Woman Cooking, ca. 1648–50
Geertruyt Roghman (Dutch, 1625–1651/57)
Engraving; plate 8 1/4 x 6 5/8 in. (20.9 x 16.8 cm); sheet 11 7/16 x 8 1/4 in. (29 x 21 cm)
The Elisha Wittelsey Collection, The Elisha Wittelsey Fund, 1956 (56.550.4)
Roghman, from an Amsterdam family of artists, is known for some reproductive prints and her original suite of five engravings, "Household Tasks": sewing, spinning, reading (?), cooking (illustrated here), and cleaning cookware. The two subjects set in kitchens are unusual in that the solitary maids are seen from behind. Each print presents a sober view of domestic work, but the kitchen scenes are remarkable for the figures' complete lack of individuality, to say nothing of appeal. In comparing Roghman's images of household servants with those of Dou and Vermeer, it is tempting to distinguish male and female points of view (as some critics have rather emphatically). Whatever the interpretation, it is important to bear in mind that Roghman's prints were intended for a broad art market, whereas Dou's famously expensive paintings (as opposed to the later prints after them) and The Milkmaid by Vermeer were made with individual collectors in mind.