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crop of washer woman's hands and bucket

A look at how cleaning has been portrayed in Royal Collection objects

Pieter de Hooch (Rotterdam 1629-Amsterdam 1684)

A Courtyard in Delft at Evening: a Woman spinning 1657

Oil on canvas | 69.3 x 53.8 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405331

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The two figures in Pieter de Hooch’s painting of a courtyard in Delft, Holland, provide a meditation on the joys of mundane and everyday tasks. Although servants in Dutch art were often portrayed as comically lazy, in De Hooch’s scene they appear diligent, wholly absorbed in their chores. The seated figure is spinning, an act associated with feminine virtue, while her companion sets off purposefully with her vessels of water. Time is suspended as they stop briefly to acknowledge one another at work.