The Old Lacemaker

A seated elderly woman who holds a pillow on her lap to assist her lace making.

Nicolaes Maes (1634–1693)
The Old Lacemaker, c. 1655
Oil on panel
14 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (37.5 x 35 cm)
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
Acquired in 1994 with the support of the Friends of The Mauritshuis Foundation, the VSB Foundation The Hague and the Rembrandt Society
Inv. no. 1101

Pictures inspired by daily life, or genre scenes, were extremely popular in the seventeenth century. Writers and moralists praised domestic activities, believing that such labors kept women from idleness. The home was the married woman’s domain, and a well-ordered household reflected a wife’s virtue. Thus the lacemaker’s kitchen — with its neatly gathered twigs, gleaming earthenware, and stacked kindling placed carefully on the table — suggests she is an exemplar of virtuous female conduct.

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