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D2357. Polychrome Petit Feu Figure of a Laundress

Delft, circa 1765

The washerwoman with iron-red-delineated facial features, wearing a yellow hat and apron, an iron-red bodice and iron-red patterned white dress, holding a piece of cloth held with both hands and dipping it into the black striped oval tub set before her on a yellow, green, iron-red and blue marbleized rock on which is also set another iron-red tub with two rolls of blue cloth, and standing on a green octagonal low mound base and iron-red rim.

Height: 10.5 cm. (4.1 in.)

Small genre figures of this type, often modeled as artisans, craftsmen or market folk, were inspired largely by German porcelain prototypes, which in turn were derived from graphic sources. Probably the most famous group of genre figures is the Meissen porcelain ‘Cris de Paris’ series; the series of Parisian street vendors modeled by Peter Reinicke after the drawings by Christoph Huet dated 1753. By the very nature of the medium, the porcelain genre figures, in spite of their humble subjects, have a certain, if accidental, elegance, whereas the Dutch Delftware genre figures, such as the present woman at work, often have an intentional folk appearance and amusing quality.

A similar figure of a laundress but in grand feu colors is illustrated in Aronson 2019, p. 75, no. 37. Other similar female genre figures of a lady washing a toilet seat instead of a piece of cloth are illustrated in Lavino, p. 79 (middle); and in Van Aken-Fehmers 2001, p. 314, ill. 3. Another comparable figure of a butter vendor is illustrated in Aronson 2018, p. 121, no. 75.

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