Woman Plucking a Duck
Nicolaes Maes, Dutch (active Amsterdam and Dordrecht), 1634 - 1693
This intimate interior scene conveys a veiled erotic symbolism, suggested by the lurking cat (a symbol of lust) and the rifle, gamebag, and glass of wine (on a table in the room beyond), objects that hint at a nearby male presence. The picture is also notable for depicting a range of ceramics used in the homes of well-off Dutch citizens in this period, including a Westerwald stoneware jug ornamented with repeated floral reliefs resting on the windowsill and Westerwald drinking jugs hanging from a rack in the upper right, ready for use. The frequent appearance of German stoneware vessels in genre paintings of the Dutch Golden Age reflects the extent of the export trade and the practical qualities of these wares, while also offering a sense of their valued status in households.