The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
A Young Woman in a Kitchen
  • Nicolas Lancret (1690 - 1743)
  • A Young Woman in a Kitchen
  • France
  • c.1720-1730
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 29.7 x 25.5 cm
  • P378
  • Small Drawing Room
Further Reading
  • A young woman seated in a kitchen inspects herself for fleas. Fleas were a common complaint among the poorer classes in the eighteenth century, but the scene is intended primarily to titillate. The girl is shown in an unguarded moment, corset unlaced, inspecting her breast: the flea is to be envied for his ability to explore the rest of her body of which the viewer is shown but a tantalising glimpse. The subject was a common one in seventeenth-century Dutch painting in the work of artists, but the erotic connotations Lancret brings to the subject lend the scene a peculiarly French flavour. The reference to Dutch art is more than cursory, for Lancret’s girl in her striped French silk skirt, semi-laced corset and dainty pointed slippers has been added by the artist, together with the still life on the table beside her, to a Dutch seventeenth-century interior.