The lady of the house is absorbed in the delicate needlework in her lap. She rests her hands on a dark blue sewing cushion and wears a thimble on her finger. The servant girl in the background is busy with her own chores, while the baby lies sleeping in the covered cradle.
Ter Borch painted lots of genre paintings like this, in which figures quietly and diligently go about their daily tasks.
Possibly identical with a painting in the sale of Jacob Dissius, Amsterdam, 16 May 1696 (Lugt 162), no. 17 (56 guilders); probably Johan Steyn, Haarlem; his sale, Haarlem, 28 April 1711 (Lugt 229), no. 9 (50 guilders); Joan Hendrik van Heemskerk, The Hague; his widow, the dowager Van Heemskerk, The Hague; her sale, The Hague, 29 March 1770 (Lugt 1818), no. 15 (for 854 guilders to Fouquet); Pieter Fouquet Gallery, Amsterdam, 1770; Pieter de Smeth, Lord of Alphen and Rietveld, Amsterdam; his sale, Amsterdam, 1 August 1810 (Lugt 7842), no. 101 (for 510 guilders to Theodorus Spaan for Croese); Hendrik Croese, Amsterdam; his sale, Amsterdam, 18 September 1811 (Lugt 8065), no. 88 (bought in for 400 guilders through ‘Van der Voort’); part of sale Amsterdam, 20 July 1812 (Lugt 8228), no. 59 (for 405 guilders to Spaan); Theodorus Spaan Gallery, Amsterdam, 1812; Casimir Pierre Périer, Paris; his sale, London, 5 May 1848 (Lugt 19009), no. 16 (bought in for 325 pound and 10 pence through ‘Watson’); his daughter, Comtesse de Ségur, née Périer, Paris; Guiraud & Fils Gallery, Paris, 1924 (for 300,000 francs to Lugt); Frits Lugt Gallery, Maartensdijk, 18 June 1925, inv. no. 2316 (sold that same month to Nienhuys); J.W. Nienhuys, Aerdenhout, 1925; his widow, A.M. Nienhuys-Versteegh, Aerdenhout; her son, J. Nienhuys, Aerdenhout, 1966-2004; bequest of J. Nienhuys, 2004
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