Wind-ups during lockdown
As pandemic lockdowns drag on, cabin fever may also set in as families spend extended time together in confined spaces. A 17th century engraving by Jacques de Gheyn II (c.1565-1629) humorously captures the kind of domestic tensions that may be experienced right now in households across the globe. The print leverages off the comic trope in art of the hen-pecked husband, and in case you did not get the joke, a scolding hen has been included in the center of the scene.
The farce depicts a husband at left reduced to a fool by wearing feminine clothes and performing a traditionally female task of working with a textile winder. His harridan wife has come blustering through the door to berate him. The household keys are displayed prominently as part of her costume, and perhaps also as a symbol of her dominance.
In the present-day context, we are likely to see individuals happily making similar visual gags in social media by recreating works of art from the 17th century with found objects around the home. The foolish husband in the engraving would also be commended for performing a mindful activity to diffuse stress.
Even though it has been used as a tool for comedy in printmaking, the winder is also a therapeutic instrument. If you are feeling tense during the next quarantine, get out your fishing line, thread or yarn and think funny thoughts as you wind away the hours.