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A Cook Plucking a Wild Duck

Photo credit: The Bowes Museum

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This cook does not appear to be a mother in a family setting, but rather a servant attending to her chores in a corner of her employer's kitchen. The utensils, the location of the kitchen (away from the main section of the house), and the woman's pensive expression indicate her role as a servant. The wine and meat signify the pleasure of dining, but are not peasant's fare. This is therefore most likely a middle-class kitchen in an urban area. Adolphe Félix Cals trained at the printmakers Ponce and Bosc, engraving works after François Boucher and Achille Devéria. He entered the atelier of Léon Cogniet in 1828. However, Cals preferred to portray the lives of the lower classes rather than the historical subjects that Cogniet depicted. In 1848 he met the art dealer Père Martin who began to sell his works alongside those by Jean-François Millet and Camille Corot.

The Bowes Museum

Barnard Castle




oil on canvas


H 45.7 x W 38.4 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

bequeathed by the Founders, 1885

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Bowes Museum

Barnard Castle, County Durham DL12 8NP England

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