Additional Information About This Piece:
Leighton's deliberate attempt at populism, with picturesque classical nuances, is closely linked to Jean-Louis Hamon's "Skeinwinder". Hamon was the leader of the French Neo-Greek school who painted simple genre scenes. Such scenes were also popular with the Victorian audience in England, as the "Magazine of Art" explained:
"Mr. leighton paints trivial subjects for his admirers, and great ones for the love of art. The public accepts him purely as a decorative painter, yet we detect far loftier aims than the ends of decoration in some ... works of noble interest which he has given to the world."
In 1884 the Fine Art Society produced an engraving of this painting that was very widely distributed. The two models, seen previously in his "Music Lesson", are engaged in the familiar task of winding wool. The relaxed postures of the fair, barefooted girls were the result of careful life studies. Leighton was criticized for his highly-finished paint surface which was not only becoming dated, but gave the model's flesh a waxy, lifeless appearance. The very orderd composition is divided into three clear sections: the brief foreground, the flat roof terrace on which the girls sit, and the distant view of blue sea and purple mountains beyond. This was the last of Leighton's paintings modelled by Connie Gilchrist.