Title   Haal appelen (Search for the image)
Translated title Apples Here
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramerís drawing of a peddler of apples (`appel ventsterí)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description A young man wearing a cap pushes a wheelbarrow loaded with apples across a square. Support straps crisscross his back but do not appear on the wheelbarrow handles he grasps with each hand. A woman wearing a kerchief stands next to the peddler's wheelbarrow. She is bent over at the waist with her arms extended. She touches an apple with her right hand, and points to one with her left index finger. She turns to face the peddler and talks with him. A large building with step-gabled roof is in the background.

Apples were a favored fruit in the Dutch diet, often baked into pies, sliced into pancakes, or fried in apple fritters*. Apples were grown in Dutch orchards as a cash-crop. Apples were also shipped into Holland from France and Germany. Families with country estates or small gardens behind their city dwellings often planted apple trees. When Dutch colonists settled in communities in New Netherland (along the Hudson Valley, in New Amsterdam, and Long Island), they brought apple seedlings with them to plant in the fertile soil of the New World.** Apples were sold in city produce markets by market women who dealt in fruits and vegetables; but were also peddled though the streets.

For centuries, the image of the apple had been artistically associated with both the Biblical Garden of Eden and Greek mythology's Judgement of Paris by Netherlandish and other artists. Dutch artists included apples in their still life fruit baskets; in market scenes; in kitchen interiors; and in paintings of women performing domestic chores. See Gerrit ter Borch's, c. 1660, "Woman Peeling Apples Watched by a Child" (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) or Pieter de Hooch's "Woman Peeling Apples" (Wallace Collection, London), or Quiringh Gerritsz. van Brekelenkam's image of a mother offering an apple to a toddler in a highchair, "Mother and Child in an Interior" (Allen Memorial Museum, Oberlin College) Hendrick Bloemaert's genrefied portrait of an old woman offering apples to a young boy, "The Apple Seller" (Milwaukee Art Museum) celebrates the fruit's distinctive shape and skin coloration.

A peddler selling apples from his wheelbarrow appears in H. van den Burch's cityscape with Amsterdam's "Nieuwekerktoren" (Amsterdam Historical Museum). Bramer's drawing captures the moment of choice and sale quite dramatically. The uplifted heel of the peddler's right foot and the fact that the wheelbarrow's support legs are not resting on the ground suggest movement and motion.

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.

Notes * See Peter G. Rose, The Sensible Cook.
** See also Peter G. Rose's introductory essay in Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Life.


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