This late-19th-century etching by German draughtsman Albert Kruger (b. 1858) is after a painting by Max Liebermann (1847-1935).
The rhythmical monotony of the spinners, organised like a rigid machine, echoes through the low barn. Youths, hunched by square windows, wind flax onto spindles. While women stand in clogged feet, working tirelessly with aching bones.
Liebermann captured their daily grind with aplomb, avoiding sentiment in favour of laborious reality. Yet, amid this harsh environment, he celebrates their efforts. The composition conveys determination with its lines and strong verticals while the atmosphere is one of steel rather than tortuous circumstance.
Liebermann was a realist yet he found light among the ordinary.
Originally published in The Art Journal, 1893, alongside a biography.
Held in a contemporary frame and glazed.
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Medium: Etching on paper
Overall size: 16½” x 12” / 42cm x 31cm
Year of creation: 1893
Condition: Artwork presents well.