Title   As. krebben leegen (Search for the image)
Translated title Loading Cinders and Ashes
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramerís drawing of Cinders and ashes loaders (`Asmannení)

Code of occupational group 99910
Description Two men are working together. In the left foreground, one man has his legs spread apart, his knees bent, and leans forward from the waist in his effort to lift the weight of a long flat shovel which he holds with both hands. The shovel is loaded with ashes. He is lifting them onto a flatbottomed boat. A second man is standing in the boat, his back to the viewer. He holds the boat in place up against the quayside with a pole so that it will not drift away. Behind the men on the opposite side of the water is a church.

Ashes from wood or charcoal coal cinders, or peat ash was collected from manufacturing centers, such as breweries or potteries, to be converted into land fill or used for fertilizer. Inland waterways in the Netherlands saw many barges transporting clay, sand, ashes, peat, oyster shells, manure, and night soil for re-use. Garbage disposal was a problem in most Dutch cities; and while some people used the canals as a convenient place to discard waste, many communities, dismayed by the stench of the polluted canals in the humid summer months and the clogging of canals as viable transport waterways, encouraged the collection of reusable debris by supplying docking space for these ash barges.

H. Wichmann, in 1923, wrote about this series in his thesis, Leonaert Bramer, sein Leben und seine Kunst; he had identified this drawing as laying out crab nets. Nothing in the drawing would seem to confirm such an interpretation. The word "as" meant ashes, cinders, or potash.

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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