Scenes from life
“Mechanical and clipped,
Workers, tight-lipped,
Control the natter
Of universal clatter
The seething fever and screech
That shreds, with its stubborn chatter,
All banished human speech.” Emile Verhaeren
In the 19th century, under the influence of photography and realist artistic trends, labour became a focus of interest, in particular because certain photographers and artists documented working methods that were to disappear with increasing mechanisation, in both farming and industry. This trend was complemented by a fascination with new machines related to the development of steam power. Representations of crafts, rural work and industrial work can all be found. These representations show us that working conditions were still difficult, and that there was a multitude of very specialised professions and tasks that were often still dependent on local economies and products manufactured on site.
Women working in a textile factory in Città di Castello (central Italy) at the beginning of the 20th century


Archivio Tela Umbra, Città di Castello, Italy

With increasing mechanisation, impoverished European women began working in factories such as this textile mill, where they were standing up all day in front of their looms.

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