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In a French Laundry
  • Artist Jens Ferdinand Willumsen (Danish, 1863 - 1958)
  • TitleIn a French Laundry
  • Dating 1889
  • Technique/MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions105 x 133,5 cm
  • AcquisitionPurchase, 1896
  • CategoryOil painting
  • Inventory NumberGKM 0286
  • Rights and ReproductionJens Ferdinand Willumsen/BUS 2012©
  • Display StatusNot shown in the museum
Signatures etc.
Exhibition History
In a large room, laundresses are at work along long benches. Light filters in from the high windows, and to the right are mounds of clothes. The shabby, noisy environment is shown in the clear light of Realism. There is nothing refined about these women; the hardness of the work is written on their faces. The colours are muted, with greyish-brown patches of glazed colour, but the water in the wooden tub in the foreground shines bright blue. The clarity and harshness of the contrasts gives the painting a barren, inhospitable atmosphere. Realism was an influential current in mid nineteenth-century art, starting with Gustave Courbet above all. It often had a social side, a willingness to depict working-class drudgery as accurately as possible. Realism was important for the artists who in the 1880s eschewed academic convention and sought to depict the surrounding world in their art. Jens Ferdinand Willumsen soon adopted a more Symbolist imagery, however.

Kristoffer Arvidsson from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014