Michael Sweerts’s painting, “An Old Woman Spinning,” created around 1646-48 during the years he spent in Rome, is a beautiful representation of Italian street life. It depicts an Italian peasant woman holding a distaff and a spindle, dressed in simple clothing. The oil on canvas artwork measures H 43 x W 34 cm and is part of a series of works by Sweerts depicting scenes of Italian street life and portraits.
Sweerts lived and worked in Italy during the painting’s creation. He was influenced by the style of Caravaggio and the Bambiocanti, which can be seen in this painting’s shadows and lighting. Sweerts captured the realism typical of this style while also infusing it with his unique artistic vision.
The Fitzwilliam Museum acquired “An Old Woman Spinning” in 1994 from a Swiss private collector via Matthiesen Gallery, London. The painting showcases how Sweerts used his artistic talents to portray everyday people without pretense, emphasizing their natural beauty through simple composition techniques.
Overall, Michael Sweert’s “An Old Woman Spinning” is a remarkable example of Baroque era art that captures the essence of ordinary life in seventeenth-century Rome.