Title   Seef, seef (Search for the image)
Translated title Sieves, Sieves
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramerís drawing of a seef seller (`zeef verkoperí)

Code of occupational group 94990
Description A young man wearing a soft, brimmed hat walks with a collection of wooden sieves strapped onto his back, holding one sieve in each hand. His mouth is open as he cries out his wares on a town street. A gabled building is in the background at the right. Between the sieve‑seller and the building, a woman wearing an apron over her skirt bends slightly at the waist and sifts something onto the ground with a large sieve she holds in both hands.

Sieves were exceedingly practical items, used by housewives to sift barley, dried peas and beans, rice, and flour free of dirt, dust, chaff, pebbles, leaves, mouse droppings and small bugs before preparing meals. Bakers and specialized pastry bakers ("pasteibacker") utilized sieves to aerate flour before mixing it into doughs that were baked it into breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, biscuits, rusks, and tart crusts; and pancake bakers at home or in the market place sifted flour before adding eggs and milk to the batter for pancakes or waffles.

A seller of grain‑sifters is included among the 80 etchings of peddlers published by Alessandro Algardi and Simon Guillain in Rome, 1646, based on the work of Annibale Carracci (1560-1609). In Bramer's 1656 drawings to illustrate Tyl Eulenspiegel, the hero sifts grain in a
large sieve just as the woman does in the background to this sieveseller, see drawing #24. A sieve-maker is included in Jost Amman's woodcuts for the Stšndebuch (1568) weaving straws between the supporting round wooden splint frame. After Bramer's death, Jan Luyken included a sieve‑maker in het Menselyk Bedryf, originally published in 1694, and his son Caspar Luyken later produced a drawing of a man selling sieves in a series on street peddlers (Amsterdam Historical Museum).

Source Donna R. Barnes, Ed D, Street scenes, Leonard Bramer's drawings of seventeenth-century daily life (Hofstra Museum exhibition 1991). Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

Click here for the introductory essay on Bramer's drawings



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