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Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, ca. 1662


My children will tell you that I like a clean kitchen, it's my obsession they'd say. I love to load the dishwasher and scrub a food crusted pot, and as my daughter reminds me, that I have "grand-mom hands.”  My mother could put her hands under scalding hot water, and now apparently I can do the same. Like the young woman in Vermeer's picture, Ruth Morton was industrious in her work. Washing dishes and clothes, scrubbing bathtubs and toilets, my mother would have fit into 17th-century domestic culture well. When expressed in a work of art, washing shows both physical and ceremonial significance. Vermeer’s image highlights daily ritual and practice in preparation for the day, but equally notable, the Delft culture would understand the spiritual implications of the painting with allusions to the cleansing power of the cross. A converted Catholic, Vermeer would intend such connections. 

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