Oil on board
Framed: 70.2 x 85.4 x 10.2 cm (27 5/8 x 33 5/8 x 4 in.); Unframed: 37.5 x 54.6 cm (14 3/4 x 21 1/2 in.); Former: 52.7 x 69.9 x 5.1 cm (20 3/4 x 27 1/2 x 2 in.)
Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection 1915.682
Eastman Johnson was a cofounder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Several of Johnson’s most acclaimed works were inspired by Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, where he summered after acquiring property in the early 1870s. Set in a rustic kitchen interior, this painting depicts a woman who winds a ball of yarn from a coil looped in the hands of a man sitting across from her at a respectable distance. At the time, winding yarn was a common symbol of courtship that carried humorous overtones of a woman ensnaring her suitor. The second woman in the composition is likely a chaperone. The suitor’s unrefined, open-legged pose, coupled with his uncouth action of placing his hat on the floor, adds further comic elements that audiences at the time would have appreciated.
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