Despite being widely attributed to Rembrandt, Girl with a Broom of 1651 is likely at least partly to be the work of one of the Baroque painter’s pupils, Carel Fabritius.
Girl with a Broom is a genre portrait painting in the traditional style of the Dutch Golden Age, depicting a girl in a dark room, possibly a basement holding a broom. She appears dried from a long day, probably working as a maid.
Yet the hallmarks of the master’s painting are here: his subtle degrees of light and shade and a keen sense of the psychological in the face of the girl leaning over the fence which looks out at us enquiringly.
It is as if the girl is questioning why she should be painted performing such a menial task, asking for a justification for the Netherlandish revival of genre painting, i.e. the painting of everyday life.
Girl with a Broom is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington after being bequest by Andrew Mellon in 1937. Mellon purchased from the Russian State during the Hermitage sale in 1931.