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||Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a seller of turnips (`knollenverkoper’)
|Code of occupational group
||A man, wearing a broad-brimmed hat, kneels in a flatbottomed barge laden with vegetables, which he has brought to the edge of a canal. He passes some vegetables, turnip-like kohlrabi, to a bareheaded woman who is kneeling at the edge of the street to receive them. Behind her, a man with a soft cap pushes a wheelbarrow loaded with the vegetables away from the canal's edge towards buildings across the market square. The wheelbarrow must be heavy: the man pushing it has supporting straps across his shoulders and back down to the handles; and he stoops slightly with the weight.
On a regular basis during the growing season, vegetables were brought into towns by barges and small boats from outlying farm areas. The vegetables and fruits were sold at city markets. Vegetables were also shipped to Holland from France, Italy, and Germany. Amsterdam had vegetables coming into the city three times a week. Delft, a smaller city, probably had fewer vegetables, in terms of both quantity and variety, but almost as many selling days. Fruits and vegetables were sold by market women at designated locations in Delft. In Bramer's account, the woman receiving the vegetables will probably sell them; the man with the wheelbarrow is merely transporting them for her.
Turnips came into season during the summer months but were good "keeping" vegetables. They could be stored in cold cellars and used throughout the winter months in stews and hearty dishes. If picked late in the autumn season, having been nipped by the cold, the bulbous roots became even sweeter.
Many market scenes depict women selling vegetables. The bounty available in Dutch markets was visual testimony to the country's prosperity. (See Pieter Cornelis van Rijck's "Market Scene" at the North Carolina Museum of Art.) Some market paintings combined out-of-season fruits and vegetables in a burst of artistic bravura. Seldom do artists depict vegetables arriving by boat, with the exception of Jan van Goyen's drawing (1651-53) of a village fair with a farmer and his wife unloading produce from their small boat (The Pierpont Morgan Library). Turnips are displayed with other vegetables in Hendrick Sorgh's 1662 "Vegetable Market" (Rijksmuseum) and in Van Rijck's "Market Scene."
||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.