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Jan Victors, A Village Scene with a Cobbler

Key facts
Full title A Village Scene with a Cobbler
Artist Jan Victors
Artist dates 1619 - 1676 or later
Date made about 1650
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 63 × 78.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1890
Inventory number NG1312
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Village Scene with a Cobbler
Jan Victors

A woman, her face intent, leans towards an old man – a cobbler. She pokes her finger vigorously into a worn shoe; its pair lies on the ground at her feet. He takes the event in his stride with a little smile, holding on to the shoe he’s been working on while reaching for hers, with one of his tools still tucked into his hand. This little passage of painting is exquisite: the cobbler’s skin is leathery and his nails dirty, but his hand is gentle, like his smile; the woman’s hands are also work worn, but clean – and tense.

Is the woman anxious he should understand the repair she needs? Is she complaining about previous work he’s done? Such questions are part of the purpose of these genre paintings – scenes that the owners would have found familiar, but with space to bring their imagination into play, enhancing their enjoyment of the scene.

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