Title   Wat wonders wat nieuwes (Search for the image)
Translated title What Wonders, What News
Intro What Wonders, What News
Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a broadsheet seller (`pamflettenverkoper’)

Code of occupational group 45240
Description In the center foreground, a young man with a hat has a wicker display basket filled with printed broadsheets strapped over his right shoulder. He holds a broadsheet in each hand; the paper in his left hand bears the legend, "wat wonders wat nieuwes." Behind him, a younger male companion stands on an overturned wooden tub, reading aloud to a group of assembled villagers standing or seated on the ground.

News traveled relatively slowly from town to town in the Netherlands until broadsheets were printed. Before the advent of printed materials, people had to rely on individual letters (which were sometimes read to groups of people as well as the person to whom they were addressed) or word of mouth information from travelers, itinerant actors, and peddlers. With the broadsheet, information -- and sometimes scurrilous political criticisms -- could be shared quickly. There was an audience for these newssheets, gazettes, and almanacs in much the same way that people were eager to buy printed sheets of music once they had heard street singers sing out the tune.

Jan Both's etching (circa 1640's) depicted singers with songsheets. The print was made after the painting for the sense of hearing by his brother Andries Both. That might well have been the source of inspiration for Bramer's account; or perhaps he had utilized Jan van Vliet's etching of the newssheet readers/song singers (Bartsch 15).

An image of a man reading a broadsheet aloud to the astonishment of his tavern companions is found in the painting by Andries Andriesz. Schaeck, "The Latest News" (New Orleans Museum of Art).

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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