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A Woman Asleep by a Fire

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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There are lots of examples in Dutch seventeenth-century painting of artists using images of sleeping women for satirical purposes – to emphasise neglect of their moral duties. That is not the case here. Van Brekelenkam was more concerned with paying homage to diligent housekeepers: this woman has clearly not fallen asleep through drunkeness, laziness or neglect but because she is tired from work. Her kitchen is neat and ordered and she has laid out supper on a neatly pressed linen cloth. Her domestic chores done, she has nodded off while studying the Bible.

The National Gallery, London



A Woman Asleep by a Fire


about 1648


Oil on oak


H 43.7 x W 32.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Salting Bequest, 1910

Work type


Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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