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
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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