Louis Charles Moeller (1855–1930)
Spinning Yarns, c. 1890
Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in.
Signed lower right: Louis Moeller NA
Provenance: private collection, c. 1940; by descent in the family until 2010
In Spinning Yarns, an elderly woman rolls a ball of yarn with the help of a gentleman of her age, who keeps the loose yarn wrapped around his wrists, and talks to her as she works. She reaches out her left index finger both as a pivot to direct the yarn, and as a knowing gesture toward the man, coupled with a knowing smile—presumably to indicate that she knows that he too is “spinning a yarn,” or telling a tall tale. The man returns her look with a slight chuckle and a twinkle in his eye. Moeller rendered his subjects' facial expressions in fine detail, picking out the brightest areas and leaving others in shadow to achieve a solid, volumetric effect. The same attention to detail appears in the ornate and colorful surroundings of the sitting room. In the background are fuchsia lampshades, gilded picture frames, patterned wallpaper, and knick-knacks of all varieties. Some of the ragged, wrinkled, and frayed objects appear nearly as old as the lady and gentlemen.