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Caspar Netscher, A Lady at a Spinning-wheel

Key facts
Full title A Lady at a Spinning-wheel
Artist Caspar Netscher
Artist dates 1635/6 - 1684
Date made 1665
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 22.5 × 17.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG845
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Lady at a Spinning-wheel
Caspar Netscher

A young woman takes a moment from her spinning to look out from a dark room, her gaze direct. Although she holds a long length of raw half-spun wool, her mind isn‘t on the task. She’s more interested in whoever has taken her by surprise.

Netscher specialised in small genre scenes before he took to portrait painting, and such pictures of women alone in a domestic setting seem to bridge the gap between the two – half genre, half portrait. This seems like a real woman looking out at us, though we don’t know who she was.

Like his teacher, Gerard ter Borch, Netscher took pains to portray texture faithfully, especially the rich fabrics of the fashions of his day. Here, he has added a subtle erotic nuance – in the wool she brushes against her lips, the pearl nestling against her cheek and the white satin slipping over her knee.

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