Through light and shadow, Honoré Daumier empathetically responded to the effects of increasing industrialization in the mid-19th century on Parisian daily life. This intimate portrait depicts a scene Daumier would have observed daily from his apartment on the Quai d’Anjou overlooking the Seine river. It is one of three closely related compositions by the artist in which washerwomen, walking up bundles from the laundry boats along the docks, are seen at the top of the stairs from varying vantage points. The act of washing, however, is never depicted. Instead, Daumier focuses on the weight of their heavy burdens. Laundress on the Quai d’Anjou is a sympathetic portrayal of a dreary and difficult existence, which the artist symbolically contrasted with the more privileged life of the people living in the bright, large houses along the opposite side of the river. The child who accompanies the laundress holds a wooden laundry spoon, implying that the mother’s tasks will likely be continued by the next generation.