These sorts of gongs were used in upper class households as waking devices, to summon domestic help or announce dinner was ready. There’re some nice ones on ebay for I don’t have a use for one now I make all my own appalling camel-dung-like meals. When my mum was alive she’d cook my meals and press a button in the kitchen. An infra-red door bell ding-donged in my bedroom to announce food was ready.
When I’m out running I sometimes listen to "Bohemian Rhapsody". At the end, after “Anyway the wind blows” Roger Taylor strikes a massive gong. If there’s no-one around my arms swing a massive pretend gong (I also do a bit air boxing when listening to the Rocky theme song The Eye Of The Tiger.) The gong struck on Bohemian Rhapsody is a “tam tam” type which was used to clear the way for important officials and processions, a bit like a police siren today.
All Rank films start following a gong struck twice.
Anyway, this maid in this painting is hitting a gong. I can’t claim it was spurred by sight of someone in a maid’s outfit. I was watching a mini-series called 20,000 Streets Under The Sky and, as you can see from the first photo, there’s a scene where a maid strikes a gong to announce food is being served. I thought it would make a nice little painting so here it is.
As a bookish geek I used to head down to Stalybridge Library ever Saturday morning. I assume the library must have reached its 100th birthday as all the librarians were dressed in Victorian attire, two being in maid’s outfits. There was a hugely-proportioned lady who's size must have been beyond the reach of the fancy dress shop's wardrobe. I remember she was wearing a massive black nun’s habit with a white veil and, with my poor eye sight, looked like a moving snow-capped mountain.