The painting shows a maid in tears in the middle of the room.

She has been sweeping the hearth (or carpet) using a dustpan and brush. The title indicates the source of her unhappiness - she is overcome with the difficulties of her first position, away from her own home and family. It provides an accurate and detailed view of a mainstream middle-class home. It is also unusual because its subject is a servant’s experience. The experience of servants has tended to be overlooked by historians and they are under-represented in the museum’s galleries.

Provenance

Christopher Wood, London; Sir David Scott, 1979; Sotheby's, London.


Back to top