Cleaning the pot 1903

A woman in Dutch costume with a light skirt and dark top and with a white hood is sitting on a bench in front of a house. In her hands she holds a round pot, the rim of which she holds tightly with her left hand and the inside of which she polishes with a light-colored cloth. To her left, another large vessel waits to be cleaned. On the floor in front of her is a metal vessel lid with a handle knob. In the background, the entrance to the house is indicated, as well as a window, under which there is a round ring. In the left background of the picture fishing boats in the harbor are dimly visible.

JQAW# G_1903_030
Pastel on paper 62 x 47 cm
Signature: John Q. Ɑdams 903
Illustration: Auction catalog Dorotheum Vienna 13.3.1919 Lot 80
Work lost.

This Dutch pastel study, which was certainly created in the fishing village of Volendam not far from Amsterdam, is documented only by an illustration in the auction catalog of the sale at the Dorotheum Vienna on 13.3.1919 (lot 80) and has since been lost. The light basic tone of the illustration as well as the pastel technique suggests a light pastel color scheme (approximately as in the painting Angelus from 1901, see cross-references). The painting was titled "Plucking Feathers" in the auction catalog, a title that was also adopted in the APH catalog raisonné, which, however, speaks of plucking a goose in the picture description. Both interpretations do not stand up to scrutiny. First, the technique of feather plucking (the breaking up of goose feathers to produce down that serves as bedding filling) requires the use of both hands and can usefully only be done on a table in an indoor room. Also, neither a goose nor feathers are visible in the high-resolution digitized image of the auction catalog. Therefore, the most plausible interpretation of the motive is that of cleaning of a pot, was chosen as the title of the painting for the catalog.


Angelus 1901



APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 50, cat.19, fig.10


Auction Dorotheum Vienna 13.3.1919 Lot 80.
Work lost since.