The Spinners, or The Fable of Arachne

This painting in fact comprises two pictures: the one you can see in the background, and the scene in the foreground.

In the background, the artist has depicted a scene from mythology. The goddess Athena, wearing a helmet, is threatening the weaver Arachne, because she made a tapestry about the goddess’s father, Jupiter, raping the nymph Europa in the form of a bull. The goddess condemns Arachne to weave eternally, turned into a spider.

In the scene in the foreground, we can see the weaving workshop. Notice the back of the neck of the girl whose back is turned to us. It is reminiscent of Michelangelo’s frescoes. The girl in the red skirt, whose face can barely be seen, is a forerunner of Impressionism, and the elderly woman at the spinning wheel is a wonderful depiction of movement. The cat lying half hidden is the symbol of the patience of working women.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns