Title   Blickslager (Search for the image)
Translated title Tinsmith
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a tinsmith (`blikslager’)

Code of occupational group 87340
Description The tinsmith sits on a three-legged stool just behind his narrow workbench. He has balanced a lantern on a wooden support raised up from the bench. He grasps the lantern with his left hand, supporting it against his knees. He holds a hammer in his raised right hand, which he is about to strike down onto the surface of the lantern. A young woman watches him. She holds a lantern in both hands. A metal shopping can sits on the workbench in front of her. A metal box, a large tin or pewter serving platter, and a tin shopping can are on a wall shelf behind them. Two lanterns are suspended by their handles from a horizontal pole directly behind the tinsmith.

Tinsmiths made, and occasionally repaired, lanterns, serving platters, drinking cans or tankards, tin storage boxes or caddies, metal reflector ovens, and other household items. Often they worked with tin, occasionally with copper, brass, zinc, or pewter.

Jan van Vliet's account of the coppersmith depicts two men working. One sits on a stool using the same kind of hammer with his arm raised in a similar fashion as Bramer's tinsmith, but working on a different object. The second cuts metal with bench shears. Van Vliet included more tools (pincers, knife, and hammer) and a wider array of fashioned objects -- not only lanterns, but also candlesticks, bedwarming pan, and a shovel. In Bramer's drawing, he simplifies the occupation, reducing it to its most essential task, but highlights the narrative potential by including the young woman who is either buying a lantern or has brought one in for repair.

Annnan's lanternmaker in the Ständebuch has a female customer outside the shop looking in through the window. Lanterns of the sort Bramer's tinsmith made and repaired can be seen in Gerrit Dou's "Night School" (Rijksmuseum). Jan Luyken's lanternmaker, drawn in 1694 for het Menselyk Bedryf, is also surrounded by finished products, but is assisted by an apprentice holding lantern poles in his arms.

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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