Title   Cool en peen (Search for the image)
Translated title Cabbage and Carrots
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a cabbage and carrot vendor (‘kool- en wortelenverkoopster’)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description In front of ruined brickwork, a man with a yoke lowered diagonally across his back, has placed wicker baskets of large cabbages and carrots on the ground, so two women can examine the vegetables. He holds a large bunch of carrots upright in his left hand, encouraging his customers to look carefully at the vegetables. The woman in the right foreground wearing an apron over her skirt is bent down, with one knee folded under her. She is almost stepping out of her mules, so that she can get a good, close look at the vegetables, including the bunch of carrots in the peddler's hand. The second customer, a curly haired young woman, stands holding onto the wicker handle of her market basket. She leans forward slightly from the waist so that she, too, can get a better look at the produce.

Cabbage and carrots were vegetable mainstays in the Dutch diet. They were often combined in the favorite "hutseput", the Dutch stew which the English dubbed "hodgepodge", because it combined vegetables and slowly simmered meats, chopped together. The Dutch also made a salad of cabbage, frequently sauced with a warm butter vinaigrette, and their "cool sla" is now known to Americans as coleslaw.

Many Dutch artists painted market scenes with vegetables and fruits in profusion. Typically the sellers were market women who had relatively fixed selling locations on the town's market square or street. See Jan Steen's "Vegetable Market" (on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston); Hendrick Sorgh's "Vegetable Market" (Rijksmuseum); Quiringh Gerritsz. van Brekelenkam's "Vegetable Stall (The Detroit Institute of Arts); or Gabriel Metsu's "The Vegetable Market in Amsterdam" (Louvre).

Some women pushed their market goods through the streets in wheelbarrows, peddling small quantities on a door-to-door basis. They were less likely to come under the municipal regulations governing the market sellers. See Michiel van Musscher's market woman passing by the slaughtered pig (Amsterdam Historical Museum). Bramer's drawing of the itinerant man selling vegetables is a little unusual; perhaps he was a farmer who brought the vegetables into town himself, carrying them in baskets. His customers look so interested in his wares, one cannot help but wonder about him and what line of chatter he used to entice his buyers as he extolled the tastiness of his vegetables.

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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