Housewives In Art

By alison September 8, 2010 17 Comments 2 Min Read

This morning I wanted to do something a little different here on BrocanteHome, something that will take me back to my roots as a once upon a time artist whilst continuing to celebrate the domesticity that is my most enduring passion.
And so I am going to begin an erstwhile journey in search of the housewife in art, not the usual pin-up girls and American magazine illustrations images I usually feature here on BrocanteHome, but paintings by classic artists like Vermeer that celebrate the everyday. There will be no rhyme nor reason to this series, no specific themes, genres or schools of art: just simply beautiful images that describe the kind of enduring domestic tasks  that remain a part of all our family lives, even today.
Basically, this m’dears, is merely an excuse to add a little gorgeous eye-candy to Brocante, while pretending to be a tad more high-brow than I ever give myself credit for. So without further ado let me begin…
The painting at the top of the page is called Pot Pourri and was painted by Edwin Austin Abbey in 1899. Austin began his career as an illustrator for Harpers Weekly, but by by the time he painted this lovely rendition of a group of women making rose petal pot pourri (See how they have laid the petals out on the floor to dry?), this American artist was a fully fledged member of the Royal Academy of Art and went on to gain illustrious fame as the artist chosen to paint King Edward VII.

Next up is one of my favorite domestic images of all time: “Apple Dumplings” by George Dunlop Leslie, an artist who sought to feature the “sunny side of English domestic life” in his large body of lovely, homely paintings. But though much of his work will be familiar to you, it is this one that really makes my housekeepers heart sing: that gorgeous green cupboard, the so familiar act that is the curly peeling  of an apple, the herbs drying, the pastry rolled… Gosh I could go on and on. It’s darling isn’t it?
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And finally for today “Motherhood” by Walter Langley, one of the founding members of the “En Plein Air” (outdoor painting) movement. Otherwise known as “The Rosy Idol of Her Solitude”, a title that succinctly describes exactly what it is to be a Mother to a new baby when the nights are long and it seems possible that there is only you and a child who will not sleep, awake in the world. I chose “Motherhood” today because of the exhausted expression on the woman’s face. Because of the patchwork quilt tucked around the baby, the print tacked to the wall, and the rag hanging over the edge of the bowl. Because we’ve all been there…
More coming soon Housekeepers.

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17 Comments

  1. Megan says:

    I love this new series already. They are all beautiful, inspiring and peaceful, just what I needed. Megan xx

    1. brocantehome says:

      I'm so glad Megan. I was worrying it might be a little too different from what I usually post… but then I have decided from this day forward to go with my heart…
      (Oooh and P.S: how could I resist but follow a link to a post about Cath Kidston?? I'm on my way over Megan!)

  2. Megan says:

    I love this new series already. They are all beautiful, inspiring and peaceful, just what I needed. Megan xx

  3. CAM says:

    These are wonderful…it is good to know there are some men out there that notice how hard we worked. Whilst a husband may never notice how hard you scrubbed a floor, an artist captures the smallest details (including handiwork). Inspiring.

  4. Lorrie says:

    These are lovely glimpses of women's lives. Just beautiful.

  5. Lorrie says:

    These are lovely glimpses of women's lives. Just beautiful.

  6. Yes, Apple Dumplings is a classic depiction of us, women working in the kitchen. Very heartwarming and inspiring.

  7. Diana says:

    Can't you just imagine the fragrance in that room with the rose petals drying on the floor? Just wonderful. And a reminder of how these kinds of 'chores' were done collectively. Looking forward to the next in the series, Alison.

    1. brocantehome says:

      I often think about the women in my lane going about their business within their four walls all by themselves. We live such solitary lives now don't we… even more so then when I was a child and it seems to me there was always other women in and out of the house. Now people seem so very, very busy…
      And yes Diane the scent of those petals must have been divine…

  8. Diana says:

    Can't you just imagine the fragrance in that room with the rose petals drying on the floor? Just wonderful. And a reminder of how these kinds of 'chores' were done collectively. Looking forward to the next in the series, Alison.

    1. brocantehome says:

      I often think about the women in my lane going about their business within their four walls all by themselves. We live such solitary lives now don't we… even more so then when I was a child and it seems to me there was always other women in and out of the house. Now people seem so very, very busy…
      And yes Diane the scent of those petals must have been divine…

  9. Hausfrau says:

    I'm so glad you've begun this series. It makes me happy to see housekeepers immortalized in timeless artworks. I love "Apple Dumplings," too!

  10. melissa says:

    Oh Alison…these are so lovely, and I'll probably have to borrow them. They're just wonderful. 🙂 Thanks so much!

  11. Debs says:

    I love 'Apple Dumplings'. What a delightful painting, and how pretty is she? So lovely..

  12. Tracelaine says:

    Your choices are delightful. Pot Pourri is so pretty, capturing such a beautiful activity. Apple dumplings is simply adorable. Motherhood is aching… her brow says it all. So happy you turned me onto these three wonders.

  13. Tracelaine says:

    Your choices are delightful. Pot Pourri is so pretty, capturing such a beautiful activity. Apple dumplings is simply adorable. Motherhood is aching… her brow says it all. So happy you turned me onto these three wonders.

  14. Laurel says:

    I am so grateful for the housewives in training. You showed me my first Oszkar Glatz – now I am searching for a painting to buy. I am hungarian and just went to Takos, Hungary, last summer with my siblings, cousins, uncle and mom. My uncle was born there. We still have family there. I have a collection of the fine needle work done by my grandmother and other family members and I cherish. Because I am second generation, I am struggling to learn the beautiful but difficult language – it is related to Finnish and Estonian, not the languages that surround it geographically. The people are incredible hard workers. My 80 year old mother (do not think little old lady, think Nora Ephron with 10 more years on her!) was blown away by his work. She identifies the objects in his paintings that she remembers from her home in Canada, where they immigrated and she was born. Thank you for enriching my life with this ONE beutiful piece of art that you posted.
    Laurel
    PS I have graandma’s rolling pin she brought from the old country……..if it could speak. 🙂

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