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30 March 2016
The First Place by A Erwood c.1860 was on the Post before, a year ago, when it was purchased by the Geffrye Museum with the help of the Art Fund. It wrote at the time: ‘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.’ And this was from the 2008 Sotheby’s catalogue when the painting was sold: ‘Although recording a moment in time in a manner typical of much Victorian painting of this date, the execution and setting of the work is in some ways very modern. It is an intriguing vision into the current interiors of the 1860s, much of the furniture being near contemporary and very much the fashion at this date. The style of its execution, such as the play of light through the window and its painterly technique, also looks forward to British painting at the end of the nineteenth century.’
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