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Here Maes celebrates the virtue of the ideal seventeenth-century Dutch housewife, seen fulfilling her duties as an efficient manager of her household, sewing a shirt in a spotlessly clean interior. The open Bible at her side implies that her thoughts, too, are virtuously occupied. Maes transforms a mundane scene into an event of solemn dignity and moral vigour, where household work assumes the dignity and probity claimed for it by contemporary authors of didactic literature on family life.

The Wallace Collection





oil on canvas


H 74.7 x W 60.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1866; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

Work type



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The Wallace Collection

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, Greater London W1U 3BN England

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