Interior of a barn with an old woman at a distaff

Isack van Ostade, 1621 - 1649

Interior of a barn with an old woman at a distaff

Isack van Ostade 1621 - 1649


In the Netherlands in the seventeenth-century spinning was thought to be a pious and industrious activity. It was an important domestic contribution that could be made by peasant women past childbearing age. Here, a woman winds wool onto a distaff in an old barn, while a young child sleeps at her feet. Two men are busy in the background; one is working in front of the fire and another is climbing the stairs. A single hen pecks at the ground in the lower right corner. The softly brushed touches of brown and gold give a feeling of space and warmth, as gentle summer light from the open door falls onto the woman and child. The inside of the barn is littered with straw, farm implements and utensils, but the atmosphere is anything but chaotic. Van Ostade has successfully captured the diffuse light caused by the motes of dust from the straw. Isack van Ostade trained in Haarlem with his brother Adriaen, and mainly painted peasants and landscapes. He was active only for around a decade. This picture was painted three years before his tragically early death at the age of just twenty-eight.

Object Name

Interior of a barn with an old woman at a distaff

Creators Name

Isack van Ostade

Date Created



unframed: 41.6cm x 53.2cm
framed: 61.3cm x 72cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Bequeathed by Mr and Mrs Assheton-Bennett.


© Manchester Art Gallery

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