Very little is known about the life of Quiringh van Brekelenkam. The first detailed account of the artist was written in the 18th century by an unknown author. He notes that 'the artist painted modern companies, fishmongers, old women, and whole interiors in the years 1660-70. His brushwork and treatment were loose and fluent, true to life, and of a benign nature, being a disciple of Dou, whom he followed in a vague way' (A. Lasius, op. cit., p. 10). Though there are a small number of still-lifes and portraits, Brekelenkam specialised in genre scenes. This painting depicts what Lasius describes as 'the sympathetic representation of uneventful, everyday activity' (op. cit., p. 39). A young maid engaged in preparing fish looks out at the viewer, as though suddenly interrupted from her duties. The influence of Gerrit Dou, the most famous member of a group of artists known as the Leiden Fijnschilders (Fine Painters), can most certainly be discerned here, though his brushwork is broader and more fluent than that of Dou.