The present, unpublished painting is an addition to the oeuvre of Abraham Willemsens as compiled by G. Martin, "The Maître aux béguins; A proposed identification", Apollo, February 1991, pp.112-115, and "Abraham Willemsens (again); more news of attributions in Flemish painting", Apollo, February 1993, pp. 97-101. Its authenticity has been confirmed by Gregory Martin after inspection of the original. Characteristic of the artist are the sturdy monumentality of the figures and the treatment of the younger women with their full cheeks, large eyes and heavily textured drapery. Also typical of the artist is the course linen of the canvas support. As this kind of support was also widely used by the Brothers le Nain, who concentrated on the same subjects, Willemsen's pictures, including the present work, have often been miscatalogued in the past as by their hand.
The composition and style of the present lot are comparable with those in the picture of A woman selling fruit in the Huntarian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow (G. Martin, op. cit., 1991, p.112, ill.) and of the two pendant pictures Farmyard with a sleeping peasant and Farmyard with a woman and child feeding poultry in a private collection (G. Martin, op. cit., 1993, p.97, ill.).
Little is known of the artist. He was recorded as an apprentice in the Antwerp guild of St. Luke in 1627/8, and is recorded as having taken on apprentices in 1651/2 and in 1653/4. Willemsens is known to have provided pictures to the most celebrated art dealers of Antwerp in the 1650s and 1660s: Musson and Forchoudt. Willemsens died in Antwerp in 1672.