A family seated round a kitchen fire

Quiringh Gerritz van Brekelenkam, 1622/29 - 1669/79

A family seated round a kitchen fire

Quiringh Gerritz van Brekelenkam 1622/29 - 1669/79


Quiringh van Brekelenkam, a pupil of Gerard Dou, specialised in scenes of everyday life, for which there was a flourishing market in prosperous 17th-century Holland. He was an important member of the Leiden School of genre painting, joining the guild in 1648. Here he depicts a neatly dressed young woman peeling carrots for the family meal in a simple kitchen, with her children beside her. Herbalists recommended carrots as being beneficial to conception and two bunches of carrots are strategically placed against her skirts. Although this home is poor, it is neat and well ordered, and the virtuous mother is instructing her children by example. Depictions of tidy homes with exemplary housewives and obedient children were metaphors for a well-governed nation. Women were expected to manage all aspects of the home, including the careful spending of their husbands' money.

Display Label

A Family Seated Round a Kitchen Fire mid 1600s Quirin van Brekelenkam around 1620 - 1668 Oil on panel Although this home is poor it is neat and ordered and blessed with children. The sense of well-being is due, we infer, to a happy and fruitful sex life. Herbalists saw carrots as beneficial to conception, possibly because of their phallic shape. The placing of carrots next to the mother, the inclusion of the bed, bedding and warming pan and the open pot, which often symbolises the uterus, all point to this interpretation of the painting. Within the innocence of the boy we see already a man with his controlling hand on the cradle. Assheton - Bennett bequest 1979.448

Object Name

A family seated round a kitchen fire

Date Created



panel: 41.4cm x 55.7cm
frame: 60cm x 74cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[G14] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 14
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Bequeathed by Mr and Mrs Assheton-Bennett.


© Manchester Art Gallery

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