Wolfgang Heimbach, Women washing Linen by the Ramparts of Christianshavn, Copenhagen, oil on canvas, 67. 5 x 87.5 cm., c. 1660, Private Collection. (Photo Credit: Rafael Valls Limited).

From 1653 to 1665, Heimbach worked in Copenhagen as court painter to King Frederick III. In Denmark he specialised in painting genre scenes set in lush landscapes characterised by rich and meticulous detail. Among them, this rare laundry scene recently appeared on the British antique market offers fascinating insights into what was evidently a highly organised activity. Heimbach’s approach is very descriptive, focusing on the huge crowd of women washing clothes, talking to each other and even quarrelling. The artist’s own participation to the scene is highlighted by a self-portrait as a passenger sitting in the carriage on the far right.