A Lady and a Servant
Maria La Fargue, Dutch (active The Hague), 1743 - 1813
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This diminutive painting advertises the pleasures of Dutch family life in the late 1800s. Pets, a laughing child, and a servant bearing a tray of coffee all grace this comfortable interior. The central placement of the coffee tray calls attention to the fashionable drink and the profits it brought to Dutch merchants. Much of the coffee consumed in Europe at this date came from the Dutch colonies of Java and Surinam by indigenous laborers who were forced to grow the commodity and sell it at fixed prices.
The artist, Marie Marguerite La Fargue, spent her entire life in The Hague in the northern Netherlands, supporting herself by giving drawing lessons and painting domestic scenes like this one for middle-class patrons. Her four elder brothers taught her to draw, engrave, and paint, and for a time the five siblings had a workshop that sold prints and illustrations for books.
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