The old woman Ane has opened her window and looks into the strong sunlight to exchange a few words with Per Nilen. Brandishing his brush and bucket of whitewash he is preparing her house for spring, his eyes squinting against the glare from the white wall.

The building and its surroundings lean in different directions, crooked with age and wear. They form slanting lines and angles offset by the figure of Per Nilen.

He has interrupted his work to speak to Ane, and he forms a solid centre in the composition with his almost frontal pose, one hand on his hip and his weight evenly distributed on his clogged feet.

The window with the recently repaired windowpane almost seems to open out of the painting's own space, and the edge of the painting cuts off the scene so abruptly that only a small section of Ane's face is framed by the window.

The surprising cropping and the painstaking, realistic detailing contribute to the sense of looking at a piece of everyday life and its doings; activities Ring knew so well himself.

Having renovated the old school in Baldersbrønde near Hedehusene he moved there with his family in 1902. The old woman Ane lived just across the street and helped around the house at Ring's; she and Per Nilen appear in many of his paintings.

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  • Title: Whitewashing the Old House
  • Creator: L.A. Ring
  • Date Created: 1908
  • Provenance: Acquired 1939
  • Physical Dimensions: w96 x h122 cm (Without frame)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst
  • Medium: Oil on canvas